After months of preparation the Olympics start.
Today’s first Olympic games at St James’ Park will see the Mexico men’s team take on Korea followed by Gabon v Switzerland.
The week of matches will culminate with the men’s quarter final on Saturday, August 4.
The first of scores of North East Olympians flew the flag for the region in the first women’s football match yesterday at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff.
Stephanie Houghton from Durham and Jill Scott from Sunderland made their Olympic debut for Team GB in the game last night against New Zealand. The pair helped secure a 1-0 victory over their opponents, with Stephanie scoring the winning goal, kick-starting the competition as they mean to go on.
And the regional pride is set to continue as the world’s eyes will be focused on Newcastle during the next week.
Newcastle Gateshead Initiative executive Sarah Stewart: “The Games are very important to the region in three ways; what’s happening in the run-up to the Games, during the Games itself and then thinking about legacy.
“First off, it’s worth mentioning the value of the North East contracts that have been won by North East-based businesses. It was more than 120 contracts worth an estimated value of over £125m.
“I then think what we saw in terms of people turning out in their tens of thousands to see the Olympic Torch relay going through the region – that was a sign that people are taking the Olympics seriously and showing that our region wants to be part of it.
“We’ve got the football teams competing up here so that means the squads are staying here and training here. That’s a sizeable number of visitors, not to mention all the people who are coming to watch the matches.
“We’ve been tracking hotel numbers and on days around the matches, most hotels are saying they have their highest occupancy numbers.
“There’s also much wider economic benefits, not just visitors coming to football matches, but much wider than that and a much longer timescale that will hopefully generate more visitors in future.”
“This gives us a fantastic opportunity to profile the city as the eyes of the world will be on us.
“We’re going to get lots of coverage during the Olympics so we have to take advantage of that.
“We need to think about legacy and one of the key things is the unprecedented opportunity to change people’s perceptions of the North East. We can use that then to attract people to want to come and visit here in future, to be a student here, to work here and to invest here.
“There’s going to be a real buzz about the city, not just for the visitors, but for local residents because there is going to a strong feeling of pride about us being an Olympic city.”PRE-SEASON FIXTURES:
FENERBAHCE 1 NEWCASTLE 1 (Abeid)Elliot, Simpson (Santon 68), Tavernier, Coloccini, R Taylor, Tiote (Bigirimana 59), Gosling (Abeid 73), Obertan (Shola Ameobi 75), Marveuax (Gutierrez 59), Vuckic (Sammy Ameobi 46), Ba (Cisse 68).
MONACO 0 NEWCASTLE 1 (Ba)Harper, Santon (Ryan Taylor 57), Simpson, Williamson (Perch 46), Gutierrez, Amalfitano (Obertan 62), Abeid (Tavernier 46), Bigirimana (Tiote 62), Sammy Ameobi (Vuckic 46), Shola Ameobi (Gosling 62), Ba (Marveaux 78)
CHEMNITZER 1 NEWCASTLE 0Elliot; Tavernier (Simpson, 70), Williamson, Perch, R Taylor (Santon, 70); Obertan (Gutierrez, 77), Abeid (Bigirimana, 70), Gosling, Amalfitano; Vuckic (Shola Ameobi, 70), Sammy Ameobi (Ba, 77). Sub not used: Harper. Att: 6,700
Fri 27.07.2012 NUFC v Olympiakos (at Algarve Stadium, Portugal - 8.45pm KO)
Sat 28.07.2012 NUFC v SC Braga (at Algarve Stadium, Portugal - 8.45pm KO)
Sat 04.08.2012 ADO Den Haag v NUFC (*an exhibition game) (5.00pm KO)
Sat 11.08.2012 Cardiff City v NUFC (at Cardiff City Stadium, Wales - 3pm KO)