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Premier league to host footballers from India and South Africa at Next Generation Cup 2024
Premier League
Photo courtesy: Reliance Foundation Sports Media

Premier league to host footballers from India and South Africa at Next Generation Cup 2024

| @indiablooms | 10 Jul 2024, 03:30 pm

Mumbai/IBNS: The Next Generation Cup is returning this summer to England, as academy teams from England, India and South Africa will compete with each other for the title.

Scheduled between August 1 and 4, the tournament will be hosted by the Premier League.

The tournament provides India's talented young footballers with an opportunity to compete with equivalent age-group teams from Premier League Academies and the South African Premier Soccer League.

The fifth edition of the Next Gen Cup will welcome eight Academy teams, including Aston Villa, Crystal Palace, Everton and Tottenham Hotspur, who have been confirmed as the four clubs who will be representing the Premier League.

The three teams representing India for this edition have been chosen through the Reliance Foundation Development League (RFDL), a pioneering tournament in India that provides valuable game-time to professional clubs, the latest edition featuring 57 teams playing 299 games.

Winners Punjab FC, runners-up East Bengal FC, and Muthoot FA, the third-place finishers, secured their spot in the Next Generation Cup 2024, along with South Africa’s Stellenbosch FC.

Last year, the Next Generation Cup was played in India, where Wolverhampton Wanderers FC beat Stellenbosch FC in the final to lift the trophy.

Neil Saunders, the Premier League’s Director of Football, said: "The Premier League is once again delighted to be hosting the Next Generation Cup and looks forward to what promises to be another great tournament."

"The event serves as a fantastic learning experience for the young players both on and off the pitch, providing them with a platform to interact with one another as well as learn about each other's cultures.

"It builds on our continued support for the development of the game in India with Reliance Foundation and we hope everyone taking part has an enjoyable and beneficial experience."

Team India and Bengaluru FC goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu lauded the Next Generation Cup, being the first Indian to play in the UEFA Europa League for Norwegian club, Stabæk.

He opined, "The Next Generation Cup is an incredible opportunity for youth teams to showcase their talent and compete against some of the best young players from international clubs. Tournaments like these are crucial for developing Indian football, providing our youngsters with much-needed international exposure."

"Competing against international talent and learning from diverse coaching styles was vital to my growth as a footballer, and I'm glad that the Next Generation Cup provides this platform to today's young players, with Reliance Foundation aiding the growth of the sport in India.  I wish all the teams luck and hope they make the most of this fantastic opportunity."

The competition will run over four match rounds, held at Aston Villa’s Bodymoor Training Ground, with two groups of four clubs playing each other before proceeding onto a final fixture based on table positions to close the tournament.

This will be held at Loughborough University Stadium where this year’s winners will be crowned.

All games will be 11-a-side and will be 50 minutes long, with two 25-minute halves being played in each fixture.

As well as giving the young Indian and South Africa footballers the chance to play in the UK against English academy teams, the Premier League and its clubs will also provide knowledge-sharing workshops.

Several players who have featured in previous editions of the Next Gen Cup have gone on to make their Premier League debut in recent seasons, including West Ham’s George Earthy, Leicester City’s Michael Golding and Sydie Peck, who played for Arsenal at the time but made his first team debut for Sheffield United. Ethan Wheatley, who recently became the 250th player to progress from Manchester United’s academy to the first team, participated in the tournament in 2020.

In Indian context, more than 40 players who have played in the competition have stepped up and have gone on to join clubs across senior football leagues across the country 

The relationship between Premier League and Reliance Foundation is rooted in the player-development journey; by enabling them to have competitive game time at an international level, have new cultural experiences and learn how football and its development takes place for the youth players in the Premier League.

This also sees the Premier League offer broader support for the development of the game in India to their existing endeavours. This includes elite coaching programmes, referee development and the sharing of knowledge and expertise in all areas of the elite game –including governance, talent development, commercial growth, administration and wider community development.

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