22 January 2014 18:01

Ayia Napa expects some 2,000 footballers and officials from Europe will make use of the municipality's sports facilities this winter, giving a significant boost to the resort's economy during the difficult low season.
Municipality treasurer Antonis Petinos said that about 40 football teams, including two or three women's squads, will train on the municipality's 16 football grounds.
Because of the World Cup, the winter break is expected to be shorter in Scandinavia, West Europe, Russia and countries of the former Soviet Union so that national teams have time to train for the Brazil World, he added.
A smaller number of other foreign football teams will also winter in the area, but will not use the municipality's facilities for training.
Foreign football teams first started using Ayia Napa's municipal training grounds some 20 years ago. They include well known European teams, among the Levski Sofia and Dynamo Kiev.
Petinos said that teams begin descending on the resort in the beginning of January, with the last ones completing their training at the end of April.
Central and Eastern European teams come in January, with Scandinavian teams due in mid February. The teams come from all divisions of their country's football leagues.
Ayia Napa figures indicate at least 40 teams will be making use of municipal training facilities in the winter, each one made up of at least 50 people, players and officials. Petinos said their presence is a massive boost to the resort's winter tourism, adding that in difficult tourist years in the past, they were fundamental to propping up the local economy.
Petinos said that even though the municipality bore a cost in order to offer these facilities, it believed it was essential as it contributes significantly to promoting Cyprus' name abroad as a sports tourism destination which offers quality services and an ideal winter climate.
The weather, so much milder than in northern Europe, was one of the important factors in attracting teams, he said.
Ayia Napa municipality has to fork out some €300,000 a year for the upkeep of the training grounds, but the income it generates is about a tenth of that.


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