The NextGen Series?
You may have heard talk of this or have never heard of it before. So what is it?
NextGen is basically the Champions League for the under-19 level, or next generation. A relatively brand new competition, founded in 2011, it has already attracted a host of big name teams.
Barcelona, Liverpool, Inter Milan, Chelsea and Arsenal all compete in the tournament alongside a host of other big names this season.
Current champions are Aston Villa (so there has been some success this season) who beat Chelsea 2-0 in an all-English final played at the Stadia Giuseppe Sinigaglia, Como, Italy. 19-year-old Graham Burke got both goals to win Villa’s first title.
This term’s tournament saw 268 goals, a staggering 3.05 goals per game.
It is proving a great occasion for youngsters to get recognized. Raheem Sterling was one who excelled in the tournament, catching the eye of Liverpool’s First Team management. Sterling has since made several appearances in the First Team in 2012/13.
The crowds aren’t big, but those that do go are passionate and do provide a good atmosphere. Attendance ranges from 737 (Man City vs Fenerbahce) to 12,000 (Olympiacos vs Anderlecht).
The games are played at the clubs’ smaller grounds to improve the atmosphere.
For example Barcelona played at the Mini Estadi; Chelsea, The Cobham Training Centre and Liverpool at Langtree Park, home of St. Helens Rugby League team.
The tournament is growing in stature and in reputation as a stage for younsters to show their talents and for referees and officials to learn the game.
In 2011 the tournament had only 16 teams; in 2012, 8 additional teams participated. This is a tournament worth looking out for.
What’s your take on the tournament? Will you be tuning in again next year?
The tournament will restart in August 2013. Coverage for most games will be live on EuroSport. Tickets are usually free.
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