Thursday 31 October 2013
Chelsea won the International Youth Tournament 2013 last weekend as a spectacular strike by Mukhtar Ali helped the Blues seal a 2-0 success against Real Madrid and their second successive victory in the competition.
"We committed to giving our clubs opportunities to compete against international opposition and this tournament was a fantastic example"
The Premier League has been striving to deliver a number of age-group competitions in recent weeks with this Under-16 tournament coming in the final year of the middle stage of the Premier League's Youth Development's Performance Pathway, which ranges from U12s to U16s.
This is the phase which focuses on helping the players make the transition to 11 v 11 matches, tournament football and pitching the best players against each other. To allow players space to develop and progress, the U16 programme puts on tournaments and festivals rather than a league schedule.
And last weekend's third International Youth Tournament proved a notable success for the Premier League's academies with Everton, West Bromwich Albion and Chelsea comprising three of the four semi-finalists.
The 12 best U16 teams in England qualified for the event via regional Premier League tournaments and were joined at Warwick University Campus by Spanish sides Real Madrid and Real Betis, Ajax of the Netherlands and Marseille of France.
The tournament started last Friday with an opening ceremony at which the teams found out who their group stage opponents would be, with each of the four groups including one of the international teams. The Spurs players were particularly excited to discover that they would facing Real Madrid, the new club of the recently departed Gareth Bale.
"It was encouraging to see three out of the four clubs that made the semi-finals were English clubs as that demonstrates that, at U16 level, our clubs are very competitive across Europe"
The tournament kicked off in style with Wolverhampton Wanderers setting the standard with a fantastic goal in the first 10 minutes of their match against Real Madrid, scored by impressive young striker Dwayne Thomas, while a wonderful free-kick by Everton in their victory against Arsenal proved another stand out moment.
Group winners Everton, Chelsea, Real Madrid and West Bromwich Albion then faced off in the semi-finals with Chelsea beating West Brom and Everton narrowly pipped on penalties by Real Madrid after an exciting 2-2 draw.
The final was another entertaining affair in which Chelsea beat Real Madrid, with the help of an audacious opening goal by midfielder Ali, who managed to beat the goalkeeper from all of 40 yards.
"As part of the Elite Player Performance Plan we committed to giving our clubs opportunities to compete against international opposition and this tournament was a fantastic example of that," said Premier League Director of Youth, Ged Roddy.
"We saw the best English teams in the under 16 age group - all had qualified via regional matches - up against top European opposition in Real Madrid, Real Betis, Ajax and Marseille and the standard of football was very high.
"It was encouraging to see three out of the four clubs that made the semi-finals were English clubs as that demonstrates that, at under 16 level, our clubs are very competitive not just in this country but across Europe. Well done to all who took part and congratulations to Chelsea for winning the tournament."
To watch video clips of three of the best goals at the International Youth Tournament 2013 go to our homepage and click on the 'VIDEO' tab underneath the main image.
Real Madrid, Wolverhampton Wanderers, Tottenham Hotspur, Newcastle United
West Bromwich Albion, Manchester City, Real Betis, Reading
Chelsea, Stoke City, Liverpool, Marseille
Cardiff City, Ajax, Arsenal, Everton
Chelsea 2-0 West Brom
Everton 2-2 Real Madrid* (4-5 pens)
Chelsea 2-0 Real Madrid