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Ollie Pearce scored for Bognor in their match today. Picture: Tommy McMillan

Bognor get first win in six months

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United Services have been invited to one of the most prestigious competitions in youth football.

The Burnaby Road outfit will attend the Dallas Cup in April.

An invite-only tournament – now in its 35th year – the competition boasts a rich tradition of attracting some of the best junior teams on the planet.

International stars such as Raul, David Beckham, Wayne Rooney and former Pompey strikers Peter Crouch and Jermain Defoe have all appeared in the competition, which has been won by the likes of Real Madrid, São Paulo and Liverpool.

The Royal Navy even won it back in 1981.

And now they return under the guise of United Services in an effort to make an impact on the world stage once more.

And Rich Stephenson, 41, who will manage the side with Marty Wallace, is thrilled at the opportunity the club’s under-19s have been given.

He said: ‘I have been involved in the under-19’s Royal Navy set-up for five years – but have always thought about the idea of bridging out to another squad.

‘That’s how USPFC came about, as we knew there were players connected to the services – but not necessarily the navy – who wanted to play more competitively.

‘As we had a strong squad of lads all based in the Portsmouth area who have ties to the services, I approached the director of the Dallas Cup.

‘We showed USPFC were performing well and managed to gain an invitation to the competition.

‘It is a great opportunity for the players in our squad. There are scouts from all across the world at the tournament.

‘If it is not a team, they also have the chance to gain full college scholarships which would be great for the lads.

‘But even if nothing comes of it, the players have had the chance to play on a competitive international platform.’

While the cup, hosted by the Dallas Texans, is an invite-only event – once selected, teams can go back every year to contest the honours.

United Services will play at under-19 level in April – as they travel with a squad formed from their two under-18 squads.

Competition is fierce for a spot on the plane – with Stephenson aiming to fine-tune his ranks in preparation for the tournament.

But while he runs the rule over the older players for 2014, the manager is refusing to rule out taking sides from the younger age groups in future.

He said: ‘The competition isn’t until April, so we have got lots of time to train and get matches under our belts to see if we are ready.

‘Already I’ve got a squad of players who want to go, now just a case of fine-tuning to find our strongest squad.

‘Our invite is for the under-19s United Services squad but the competition goes down to 14 year olds.

‘We would probably be sticking to the under-19s but in the future we could possibly send a younger squad as well.

‘It is just something we would have to look at when we came to it.’

United Services are based at HMS Collingwood.

After forming in 2006, they have now got eight junior teams and welcome children as young as five to attend fun training sessions, too.

For more information on the club, visit youthfc01