Tue 20-02-2018 23:55 PM
DUBAI, 20th February, 2018 (WAM) -- Some of the world’s best Under-13 football players will be in Dubai this weekend as the city hosts the second edition of the U13 Dubai Intercontinental Football Cup at the Dubai Sports City.
Held for the first time in April last year with 12 teams competing for the title, the tournament will be held from February 22-24 this year with 20 teams from 13 different countries - including Spanish clubs Real Madrid and Barcelona, England’s Liverpool, Italian giants Juventus and Egypt’s Al Ahly - playing a total of 57 matches across the three days.
Details of the event were revealed at a press conference on Tuesday, where Saeed Hareb, Secretary General of Dubai Sports Council, and former Real Madrid stars Michel Salgado, chief executive of the tournament, and Luis Figo, the tournament’s ambassador, were present.
A brainchild of Salgado and supported by Dubai Sports Council (DSC), the tournament will be broadcast around the globe, on major networks, with at least 29 of the matches being shown live.
The matches will be played from 9am to 9pm each day, with two matches taking place simultaneously, and the grand final for Gold Cup is scheduled for 8.30pm on Saturday, February 24.
The teams taking part this year are: FC Barcelona, Celta Vigo and Real Madrid (all Spain); Liverpool FC (England); Juventus (Italy); Al Wasl, Shabab Al-Ahli Dubai, Al Nasr Dubai, Al Wahda and Spanish Soccer Schools Dubai (all UAE); Al Ahly and Wadi Degla (both Egypt); and Al Nassr (Saudi Arabia), Canadian Academy of Football (Canada), Pascoe Vale FC (Australia), FC Rostov (Russia), Tokyo Select (Japan), Jiangsu Suning (China), Lizzy Sports (Ghana) and Academia de Futebol de Angola.
"From 12 teams in the first edition to 20 teams for the second year, the tournament has taken a massive leap," said Hareb at the press conference, which was held at DSC’s headquarters.
"If you translate that to percentages, the year-on-year growth is more than 66 per cent and that is impressive by any measure. The increasing numbers show us that we needed such an age-group competition. It also shows the great work put in by the organising committee and Michel Salgado.
"This is a very important tournament because it gives us a glimpse into the future. The tournament will showcase players, who will grow up to represent their clubs and their countries, and win titles with them.
Ali Omar Al Balooshi, the Director of Sports Development at DSC, added: "The under-13 is a very important age group in terms of football development, and this opportunity to play some of the best players from around the globe is invaluable for the players from our local clubs and academies.
"Our players get to see players from the top European clubs and learn from them. They get to see first-hand how these players train, how they play, how they manage themselves and their time, and how they take those small baby steps towards professionalism.
"It is also an opportunity for our local club coaches to see how the coaches from the top clubs operate and grasp the latest and best practises in the world of football.
The U13 Intercontinental Cup was conceived by Salgado and former Spain international is hoping the tournament will reflect the ideals of the founding father of the UAE, Sheikh Zayed Al Nahyan, in this Year of Zayed.
"This tournament takes inspiration from Sheikh Zayed, whose visionary ideals of tolerance, unity, diversity, secularism and foresight laid the foundations of this amazing country," said Salgado. "This country is my home now and Dubai is my city, and the perfect scenario for such an amazing tournament, a city open to and welcoming to everybody.
"The growth of football in UAE is a fact and this tournament is a real chance for our local teams and local players to challenge the best of the world in order to make them ready to be competitive," the former Spain international added.
"It’s the biggest opportunity to watch the best U-13 players of the world and the future stars of football, and we want to make the U13 Dubai Intercontinental Football Cup the most important grassroots tournament in the world.