FOOTBALL fans waiting for the World Cup to kick off in two weeks’ time will be able to experience the city’s own sporting challenge.
And former England and Arsenal footballing legend Martin Keown will be handing out prizes at the “World Cup”, which is raising money for this summer’s Cowley Road Carnival.
Mr Keown, who grew up in Cowley, will join footballers from across the city at the Aroma Carnival Cup on Sunday at Oxford Brookes University Sports Centre in Headington.
The charity tournament will include 24 teams, with players representing countries such as England, Spain, Portugal, Albania, Brazil, Ireland, Bangladesh, Hungary, Nepal and Jamaica.
Bar Aroma, on Cowley Road, and Oxford Brookes’ Department of Sport have joined up with Cowley Road Works, the charity organising the carnival, to run the event.
Mr Keown said: “As a local lad, brought up in the Cowley Road, I think the carnival is a brilliant day, bringing the diverse local community together.
“It’s really nice for one day of the year to be able to walk down Cowley Road, without all of the traffic, and bump into old friends.
“Having enjoyed the carnival in previous years, it’s great to be able to use the power of football to raise money so local people can continue to share in the atmosphere on the big day.”
The charity needs to raise £110,000 ahead of the July 6 event, and all proceeds of the tournament will go towards this target.
Executive Director of Cowley Road Works Danielle Battigelli said: “The Cowley Road Carnival is the largest community event in Oxford, celebrating the many different nationalities living in our city.
“And it is completely free. This tournament will be a perfect way to start the countdown.”
As well as prizes, there will be music, a barbecue and raffle to help boost carnival funds.
Bushi Xhetan, owner of Bar Aroma, said: “Carnival is such a vibrant and exciting time for East Oxford with so many different cultures coming together in celebration.
“We are so pleased that Carnival is back in Cowley Road and want to do everything we can to make the event a success.”
Sarah Queralt from the University’s Department of Sport added: “Brookes Sport is delighted to be the host venue for the Aroma Carnival Cup and supporting the Cowley Road Carnival.
“The carnival celebrates Oxford's cultural diversity and we here at Brookes Sport are proud to be part of this important community based event.”
Sunday’s tournament at the Brookes’ Sports Centre in Headington takes place between noon and 5pm.