Dubai: The Dubai International Super Cup 2013 kicked off on Monday at Dubai Sports City – a tournament which is expected to attract contacts of scouts from top English Premier League teams.
Forty-four international teams from 12 countries – including English Championship side Bolton Wanderers youth academy, Arsenal Bahrain and the UAE-based Real Madrid – will come together to pit their footballing wits against each other over the week at DSC.
Team Tours Direct (TTD), the tournament organiser, launched the event on Monday at a press conference alongside new regional partner Sport K.
Terry O’Neill, CEO of TTDm says the tournament has the potential to unearth the UAE’s footballing talent and scouts will be at the games to keep track of how the region is progressing.
“I’m aware that a lot of clubs from the English Premier League are speaking to their contacts here to ask them to come and watch the games. I expect to see a lot scouts.
“And if I see a talented youngster I will make sure I speak to his parents and ask if they’re interested in us setting up connections for them, whether it be in Belgium, Spain, England [or elsewhere] in the Middle East.”
TTD also runs the Welsh International Super Cup, which operates under a similar format. Players to have previously played in the set-up include Liverpool and England legend Steven Gerrard and former AC Milan striker Andriy Shevchenko, when the Welsh tournament was called the “Ian Rush tournament”, before being renamed.
O’Neill added that another key aim for the tournament is to get Emiratis playing top-level football. “If we can achieve within five years five or six Emirati youngsters who we can introduce to top clubs in England and Spain, we will have done a top job,” he said.
Age categories range from under-8s through to U18 “youth” teams. Each category has a league and play-off schedule for the tournament, with matches lasting from 20 to 60 minutes depending on the age group.
Khalid Al Zarouni, President of Dubai Sports City said Dubai Sports City, is delighted to be hosting the “extremely prestigious” TTD Dubai International Super Cup.
“It is a wonderful event that brings together teams from all over the world and offers youngsters the chance to experience the thrill of competition against players from different countries,” he said.
Ramzi Al Karmi, General Manager of Sport K, says his team is looking forward to watching tomorrow’s stars emerge, and added that the tournament organisers are “honoured to have such distinguished and internationally credible match officials” at the tournament.
Fixtures will be officiated by international referees from England, Wales and Portugal, with the support of UAE officials. Regulations for the tournament are in accordance with Fifa’s globally recognised standards.
Maqbul Dudhia, General Manager – Sports Business, DSC, says the youth Super Cup is another step in the right direction for Dubai on the road to fulfilling its ambitions to create a footballing hub.
“We’ve already hosted Swansea City and Anzhi [Makhachkala] at the football academy and both teams were blown away by the facilities. And now this tournament is another initiative which is in line with the direction we want to take sport and football in Dubai.”
Sides from England, Kenya, Malta and Wales have already signed up for the 2014 edition of the football tournament.