Youngsters pumped up for Champions League
By Colin Thompson
Youth football takes centre stage at Goose Gosling Field tomorrow with the quarter-finals of the second annual Powerade Champions League.
The tournament features three age groups: Under 8, Under 10 and Under 12. Each age group consists of eight teams that have been placed in two groups of four.
The winners of each group automatically qualify for the semi-finals, to be played on May 11, while the second team from group A plays the third team from group B and vice versa in the quarter-finals to determine the remaining semi-finalists.
The tournament began April 19 and concludes with the final to be held May 17.
Advancing straight to the semi-finals in the Under 8 age group were group A winners Hamilton Parish and group B winners Valencia. BAA Green will face Warwick Academy while North Village Reds take on Somerset in tomorrow’s quarter-finals.
Taking the shortest route to the last four in the Under 10 age group were group A winners BAA Green and group B winners North Village. Somerset will clash with Dandy Town Gold while Hamilton Parish will do battle with Valencia in tomorrow’s quarter-finals.
Securing their places in the semi-finals of the Under 12 age group where group A winners Hamilton Parish and group B winners BAA Green. Tomorrow, Valencia lock horns with Dandy Town and Somerset take on BAA Knights in the quarter-finals.
According to Kenny Thompson, the BAA director of football, the main objective of the tournament is to help Bermuda’s youth footballers to keep pace with their overseas counterparts in terms of development.
“In Bermuda, the regular season for youth football pretty much amounts to around five months while our players’ peers in other jurisdictions are playing ten months, which is double the amount of football development opportunity,” he said. “If our players are only getting five months of football in a regular season, while their peers are getting ten months in one season, then your international peers are twice as advanced as we are.
“So we are operating based on the idea of extending the football opportunities for youth players towards a ten-month season to kind of keep pace with our international peers.
“The more they are playing, the more opportunities they get to learn. And the more opportunities they get to learn, the more likelihood that their rate of development is quicker.”
Another objective of the tournament is to instil a competitive mentality in the players. “The tournament is competitive, therefore we teach the players how to compete,” Thompson added. “In their football development, the players have to learn how to compete and learn how to put the ideas of the coach into a winning formula. That does not mean that winning is the be-all and end-all. But it does mean that the development of the players is critical that they learn how to be competitive.”
The Powerade Champions League enables players to have fun while competing in an environment they can relate to.
“The tournament’s concept is based on the Uefa Champions League — and that is something that the players can relate to because they watch the matches, know about the Champions League and have their own teams,” Thompson said.
“Before every match, the players line up behind the referee and walk out to the Champions League anthem and line up and shake hands — all the things they relate to, based on what they see on television and on the internet.
“They have fun in this competitive but also a fun environment that this generation can surely relate to. And we are really grateful for the sponsorship of John Barritt & Son Ltd and Powerade, the title sponsor, to be a part of this extension to football development.”