One of India's most competed domestic tournaments at the U16 level, the Premier Cup, kicked off yesterday, January 30th, in Goa.
With aim to aid development of budding footballers, the tournament provides a platform for athletes to compete against some of the finest in the country in the same age group, while also presenting the perfect environment for scouting precocious talent. This is the second year of the tournament’s hosting, having been inaugurated last year.
The Nike Premier Cup, as it’s called, is held in association with the All India Football Federation's (AIFF) and the tournament will be held in two stages this season - in Mumbai and Goa. Qualifiers for the tournament saw 55 teams slug it out, from which 16 of the best teams were selected to participate in the final group stage.
Divided into four groups, the tournament will see matches from one cluster of teams staged in the Konkan state from 30th January to 5th February. The group matches in Mumbai will be held between 31st January and 6th February.
The semi-finals of the tourney will be held in Mumbai on Wednesday, 8th February. The financial capital's Cooperage stadium will play host to the final of the tournament, on Friday, 10th February.
The Chairman of AIFF Technical Committee, Baichung Bhutia was delighted with the hosting of the competition and elucidated, “There is a lot of young football talent in our country. These young footballers need a platform not just to showcase their talent but also to understand the technical aspects of the game and gain exposure. The Premier Cup is one such platform that helps young footballers to make the most out of the opportunity provided to them.”
“As the popularity for football continues to grow in our country, Premier Cup serves as an initiative to build the sport at the grass root. Last year at the Premier Cup, the scouting team were able to identify strong talent who are now probable’s for the upcoming marquee tournament at home," explained the general secretary of the Indian FA, Kushal Das.
"The Premier Cup will truly help give these young athletes an opportunity to grow as footballers by playing against the best in their age group,” he concluded.