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Monday 15 October 2012

U16 stars set to grace national stage

Premier League tournament plays an important role in player development

  • Norwich City won the first U16 National Tournament in Warwick last year

  • Arsenal take on West Bromwich Albion in last year's tournament

Some of the most talented youngsters in the country will take an important step on the way to becoming club scholars when they take part in the Premier League’s second U16 National Tournament this weekend.

The two-day competition, which features 12 clubs, is one of the first events to be held at the state-of-the-art St George’s Park facility in Burton following its official opening on Tuesday.

Premier League Club Support Manager Chris Casper, whose role includes supporting the Academies to implement the new Premier League Elite Player Performance Plan, believes this kind of tournament is a key part of a players’ development. 

"You can't put a price on the weekend and the experience"
Chris Casper

"The experience of high-quality tournament football, of being away, of using spare time for video analysis, coach's reviews and recovery sessions, all goes in to creating a fantastic experience for the lads and one that hopefully the clubs and the players will embrace," he told

"It's an important step to becoming an elite footballer. Hopefully, it will give the players an opportunity to see what day-to-day life is like being a scholar – being away from home, an overnight stay and preparing for competitive matches.

"You can't put a price on the weekend and the experience, and what the lads are going to gain from it," he added. "It's an all-round part of their development."

This competitive event forms one part of the Games Programme of the Youth Development Phase of the EPPP, which aims to improve player development by helping them make the transition to 11 v 11 matches and pitching the best players against the best.

According to Casper, it is not only the players who will benefit from the weekend. "It gives the clubs and coaches the chance to get to know the players and find out more about them," he explained. "It's a fantastic opportunity for everyone involved.

"It's important that the clubs and the academy managers know as much as possible about the young players coming in and this provides a chance to do that."

"Best playing against the best is essential to moving forward"
Chris Casper

The 12 teams will be split up into three groups, with the sides playing everyone in their group once in matches consisting of two 20-minute periods.

The winners of each group will progress to the semi-finals in addition to the runner-up with the highest number of points.

"A weekend watching good, young footballers showing what they can do, the skills they have got – you can’t beat it," concluded Casper. "You get some really good games. It gives the lads the opportunity to play against teams they might not necessarily play in their weekly fixtures.

"Having seen these tournaments over the last few weeks, there is no question that there are quality young footballers out there and it gives you a chance to have a benchmark not just for players in your region but nationally.

"Best playing against the best is essential to moving forward. The concept is great and hopefully it will have an influence over the coming years."

U16 National Tournament

Group 1: Arsenal, Manchester United, Middlesbrough, Southampton

Group 2: Chelsea, Blackburn Rovers, Aston Villa, Newcastle United

Group 3: Tottenham Hotspur, Liverpool, Wolverhampton Wanderers, Reading

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Key Points

  • U16 National Tournament takes place this weekend
  • 12 clubs competing at St George's Park event
  • Chris Casper says tournament is an important part of player development