Horizons Getting Broader For Next Generation Of Football Players
UEFA will launch a U19 Champions League tournament this season in "what would seem to be a major threat" to youth football tournament NextGen Series, according to Omar Al Raisi of THE NATIONAL. However, NextGen Series Co-Founder Justin Andrews "does not seem to be fazed by the challenge." The tournament takes the U19 teams from 24 clubs around Europe and pits them in a Champions League-style tournament -- complete with travel, group stage and knockout rounds -- "with the aim of replicating the competitive environment of Europe's top club competition." That is why UEFA's tournament "will operate in much the same way." Andrews: "I don't think the UEFA Under 19 Champions League will affect the NextGen Series. Simply because, as per the rules of the U19 Champions League, [only] the clubs who qualify for the main Champions League can take part in the competition. But in the NextGen Series, we have teams who don't have the chance to get into the Champions League, like Aston Villa." The NextGen Series has struck TV deals with the likes of Eurosport, ESPN and Fox Sports and "there are plans to expand the tournament around Asia, Latin America and Australasia" (THE NATIONAL, 7/22).