Though the World Cup is over, football fever in Prague is still going strong with the Generali CEE Cup – an international football tournament that sees the most talented young footballers from Central and Eastern Europe come together to compete for the coveted Generali CEE Cup trophy.
Football players aged under 19 from the 12 top teams from across Europe, including four Czech teams – Sparta, Slavia, Bohemians and Mlada Boleslav – and two teams participating for the first time this year, Polish club Wisła Krakow and Serbia’s Red Star Belgrade, will battle it out on the field during the month of July to be crowned the champions of the 2014 Generali CEE Cup.
“I think each year of the tournament is different and each year it gains more respect. We try to improve the level of the teams with each tournament and I confidently believe that the level of the teams this year is better than previous years,” says Roberto De Blasio, director of the Generali CEE Cup tournament.
He has high hopes that the tournament, now in its fourth edition, will become a major event on Europe’s sporting calendar.
“My vision is that the Generali CEE Cup will become an annual sporting event in Prague and in ten years’ time I want to see the tournament become a must-attend event in the football season – for clubs, agents and scouts,” continues Roberto.
He also hopes that the tournament will help football agents and players see that the most talented young players don’t always come from the most popular or well-known European clubs.
“When talking about youth football it is not necessarily the name of the football club that will impress you, as this doesn’t always mean that the club has the best training academy,” explains Roberto. “For example, two of the teams competing in the Generali CEE Cup this year – Slovakia’s AC Trenčín and Romania’s FC Juvents Bucuresti – aren’t the most well-known teams in Europe, but they both have fantastic academies for young footballers.”
The tournament, which is hosted with support from the Football Association of the Czech Republic and the City of Prague, has an additional aspect this year which will help talent scouts discover the next generation of talented European footballers.
In collaboration with Wyscout, a football company that uses innovative video analysis to assess player’s talents, the Generali CEE Cup is hosting a series of seminars and networking events that will help scouts and clubs to determine the footballer stars of tomorrow.
Jindřich Rajchl, the Chairman of the Commission for Players’ Agents of the Football Association of the Czech Republic, will be taking full advantage of Wyscout’s participation in this year’s Generali CEE Cup
“I decided to participate in Wyscout as it’s a great way to find out what to look for when scouting for new players and how to implement strategy scouting systems,” explains Jindřich. “I think it’s a good opportunity for both clubs and players when scouting for new players and trends – it’s good for both sides to share this kind of knowledge.”
And Jindřich hopes that following the kind of technology that Wyscout utilises will help young Czech players to establish a name for themselves in their homeland before going on to other European teams.
“I’m not a big fan of making transfers of very young players from the Czech Republic to teams based abroad. We have seen quite a few big transfers of this nature but not many players ever make it to a big national team,” says Jindřich. “I think it is much better for young Czech footballers to make it to the top leagues within the Czech Republic – gain some position and respect in their own country and practice as much as possible – and then transfer to the big clubs when they already have a name for themselves.”
The 2014 Generali CEE Cup isn’t purely about scouting for the next Antonín Panenka or Pavel Nedvӗd – it also has a charitable purpose too, with proceeds from ticket sales going to the charity UNICEF’s children’s programme in Africa. Money raised during previous tournaments has helped to fund UNICEF’s Schools for Africa programme and other such humanitarian projects.
The 2014 Generali CEE Cup’s first match will kick off on 23 July from 10 am at the Xaverov Stadium in Horní Počernice between Slavia Praha and Hungary’s Vasas Kubala Akadémia.
The tournament final will be played at the newly modernised Ďolíček Stadium on 30 July, with a special event featuring a mini-tournament for kids aged under 7, fun face painting and the opportunity for young football fans to lead players out onto the field before the match. The final will be broadcasted live worldwide throughout 77 countries on Eurosport TV.
Fans attending matches throughout the tournament can pick up a magazine, in both Czech and English, which contains information about the tournament and a two-for-one ticket offer.
The 2014 Generali CEE Cup also receives support from FIFA and Diadora with media partners that include Prague Daily Monitor and Prague TV.