Some of the biggest clubs in world football will be sending their youth teams to Doha to compete in the first edition of a new international football tournament.
Known as the Al Kass International Cup U-17, the competition is being organized by Al Dawri & Al Kass Sports Channel (Al Kass), together with Qatar Football Association (QFA) and Aspire Zone Foundation (AZF).
The annual event, which sees the addition of a world-class championship to the international football calendar, will be held from 8th to 17th January, 2012 at the outdoor football pitches at Aspire Zone in Doha.
“This is going to be the first edition of an annual event that is set to further contribute to building on the foundations of a proud footballing nation up to the FIFA World Cup 2022 and beyond,” said Issa Bin Abdulla Al-Hitmi, general manager of Al Kass.
The initiative is expected to benefit the global youth football movement as emerging junior teams from top clubs such as Paris Saint-Germain (France), Vasco De Gama (Brazil), Juventus (Italy),Ajax (Amsterdam), FC Barcelona (Spain), Kashima Antlers (Japan), Al Jazira (UAE) and Al Ahly (Egypt) discover new frontiers, build partnerships and make lifelong friendships. The teams will be competing to win the the trophy for first place along with a two-hundred thousand dollar cash prize to be allocated to the winning club. There will also be awards given to the most valuable player of each match.
Aspire Academy will also have two teams participating in the Cup, Aspire Qatar and Aspire International.
“Aspire Zone is honoured to be hosting such an innovative tournament to support youth development in football. The Aspire Academy has a strong history of hosting visiting youth football teams for friendly matches against our Aspire teams and the Al Kass International Cup U-17 will give our boys valuable experience. The players on display could be the future stars of world football so we just may see them returning to Qatar in 2022 to play in the FIFA World Cup,” observed Ivan Bravo, Director General of Aspire Academy for Sports Excellence.
“Through the friendships forged during the annual Al Kass International Cup U-17, clubs will build a lasting relationship and intimacy with Qatar and its beautiful football stadiums leading all the way up to World Cup 2022,” said Hamad Al-Mannai, director of the Al Kass International Cup U-17.
“We already know that Qatar is investing in the future of football and Doha is propelling itself as one of the leading sports capitals of the world, and we look forward to having a world class level of sportsmanship at the tournament,” added Al-Mannai.
Officials said that all three stakeholders behind the initiative stand to gain from each other’s expertise and contribute collectively to the growth of a footballing culture in Qatar and around the region.
Al Kass is known for its quality programs, unique production, in-depth coverage and professional analyses making it a top rated sport channel in Qatar and one of the fastest growing sport channels in the Middle East.
Aspire Academy for Sports Excellence is supporting the development of sporting champions in Qatar and encouraging the community to lead a healthy lifestyle.
With the tournament being held during football’s winter break and located in a part of the world that truly bridges the East and the West, Ward Abdallah, head of the tournament’s media committee, asserted that Al Kass U-17 has the tools required to communicate with the world’s football community, “We will be launching a new website and using social media tools to ensure that we can reach and communicate directly with our Al Kass U-17 football community.”
A number of key sponsors have already signed up to become part of a tournament of Al Kass International U-17’s standing. These include Qatar 2022 Supreme Committee, Qatar National Bank, Fifty One East, Qatar Stars League, Q.media, Ritz Carlton Hotel, Mannai Air Travel, QVision, Qatar Airways, The Look Company, and Swiss Open Air.