Forest pitch match to go ahead

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PLANS are still on track for a unique football match to be played in the heart of a Borders woodland as part of the celebrations surrounding the London 2012 Olympic Games.

The Forest Pitch project, which will see four teams of players from around the world taking part in the event on Saturday, August 25, was originally meant to have taken place earlier in the summer, but was cancelled due to bad weather.

It is one of 12 extraordinary public arts commissions being created across the UK as part of the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad and the London 2012 Festival, which runs until September 9.

The four sides will play two matches in front of a 1,000-strong crowd as a celebration of the Olympic spirit and an exploration of Scottish identity.

The arena where the matches will be played has been created in the heart of a spruce plantation, on land belonging to the Duke of Buccleuch, near Selkirk.

Most of the 60 male and female players are new Scots – people who have come to the country in search of safety, for love and family reasons, or to work or study.

Craig Coulthard, the Edinburgh-based artist behind the project, told us: “Forest Pitch is also very much a way to highlight the founding spirit of the modern Olympic Games. It is all about amateur athletes joining together in competitions which honour the participation as much as the winning.

“The matches will be a showcase for sport as a way for people to engage with a culture, and of Scotland as a country which welcomes the world.”

Once the matches are over, the white lines will be planted with native trees and will become an evolving environmental sculpture – what has been described as a “ghost pitch”.

An arts film and book of the project will follow, with further details of the changes in both the pitches and the players.