Galaxy Foot 2009 took place this weekend at the Parc des Expositions in Porte de Versailles, Paris. The annual three-day exhibition is a celebration of anything and everything to do with French football. It was at the very heart of this huge event that 22-year-old Bruce Grannec from the town of Chilly Mazarin, just outside Paris, was crowned the FIFA Interactive World Cup 2009 (FIWC09) Champion of France.
Bruce will now represent his country at the FIWC09 Grand Final, which takes place in Barcelona, Spain in less than eight-weeks time. The French Champion is confidently looking forward to the challenge ahead: "If I can get past the group stage, then anything can happen. I have never been to Barcelona so I'm looking forward to that, and I love to play top gamers in big tournaments."
A galaxy of football
Galaxy Foot is a showcase for all forms of the beautiful game. During the three-day event, there were football pitches available for everything from small, skillful games of two and four players, to more traditional five-a-side matches where the tackles were hard and the goals spectacular. Also available was a full-size beach soccer pitch for both top players and novices alike to try their skills in the sand.
The FIWC Live French Qualifier was a big attraction at the centre of the festival of football and the virtual football skills on display were just as popular with spectators as the action on the various pitches.
Crowds witness best of France
Over 55,000 visitors moved through the event in just three days. Those lucky enough to watch the final stages of the Live French Qualifier witnessed France's best 16 football gamers battle it out for a place at the Grand Final. The finalists included players from all over the nation and gamers who had qualified at previous events in cities such as Lyon, Bordeaux and Marseilles faced a strong contingent of Parisian champions.
Saad Harfi brought his whole family with him from Bordeaux for moral support. Just prior to his unlucky exit at the Group Stage, the 14-year-old summed up his FIWC experience, "I am really happy just to have participated in this massive event. Just to be here to represent my city is awesome."
The French Final was a virtual replica of this Wednesday's exciting UEFA Champions League tie between Manchester United and Inter Milan. Sir Alex Ferguson will be delighted if the result at Old Trafford resembles the virtual verdict in Paris. Bruce's Red Devils eased to a comfortable 3-1 victory over Nabil Boudjahfa's Italian giants.
Bruce, who has recently completed his studies and is currently pursuing his dream-job as a pro-gamer, feels he has a strong chance of winning in Barcelona: "I have played a number of big tournaments, in France and also in China, and that experience should give me an advantage at the Grand Final."
With his sights now firmly set on the big prize, the French Champion will be keeping a keen eye on the remaining live qualification events in Spain, Brazil and South Africa to see who will be joining him in the FIWC battle of Barcelona on 2 May.