Yorkshire is getting its own international football team

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A group of dedicated football fans have applied for a Yorkshire team to compete on the international stage.

The YIFA men's side will be members of CONIFA - a football association for regions and states not recognised by FIFA, the sport's international governing body.

Sadly, it means we won't see the squad at the World Cup - instead they'll be taking on the likes of Tibet and Greenland in competitions and friendlies.

A network of scouts and coaches attached to the project will recruit players from non-League and semi-professional clubs - and to be eligible, they must have been born in Yorkshire or have strong roots in the county.

The team will train and play home fixtures at Hemsworth MWC near Wakefield, and will host the Isle of Man for a British derby clash in their first match. They also hope to play at grounds across the region to expand their fanbase.

Nicknamed the Vikings, the side is the brainchild of 45-year-old chairman Philip Hegarty, who lives near Halifax and is now spearheading a campaign to secure sponsors and financial backers for the team.

Ultimately, he aims to introduce a ladies' team and even host CONIFA's World Cup or European Championships in Yorkshire.

"The reason we've set this up because, like a lot of people around the region, we've been talking about a Yorkshire football team for years. It just got to the point where we said "let's see what happens" and so far the reaction has been amazing.

"We've had lots of support off the CONIFA General Secretary as well as other involved people and organisations. It's also kind of a reflection of Yorkshire's strong leaning towards devolution at the moment; a way of bringing the feeling of the debate to the man or woman on the street. Giving them an outlet for their pride in Yorkshire.

"We're appealing for grants and crowdfunding. We're still a fairly new concern at the moment, but we're hoping to get a few big names involved."

The backroom staff are keen to hear from potential players, coaches and sponsors who would like to be involved. Visit https://www.yorkshireifa.com/ to apply.

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