Oman International Youth Cup to feature top European teams

Muscat, Sept 17 – European giants Manchester City, Arsenal, Inter Milan, Torino, Verona and Genoa have all confirmed their attendance for the first ever Oman International Youth Cup (OIYC) to be held from November 22 to 24 in Muscat. The matches will be held at the Sultan Qaboos Sports Complex in Bausher for youth under the ages of 15, Under-13, Under-11 and Under-9, starting on November 22, with the finals for each group scheduled on November 24. Unveiling the details of the three-day tournament, Chuck Martini of Al Jarwani Group, said the idea of holding such a tournament is to lift the grass root level football in the Sultanate.

“The tournament has big European clubs in attendance along with local qualifiers and GCC academies are expected to participate.” “We aim to make a platform for an annual event on youth football in the Sultanate,” Martini said. From the GCC, Al Jazeera and Al Wahda are likely to take part and some academies of European clubs based in the region have also expressed interest. “There will be Gold, Silver and Bronze category for the teams after the common group stages according to their performances,” Martini said. The idea of forming a common Oman team from all the football academies in Oman is also strongly considered, he added. Shabib al Hosni from the Oman Football Association (OFA) said the initiative will have full support from the OFA.

“This is a great initiative and OFA is giving our full support for the event. The tournament is a great opportunity for the players of Oman to challenge themselves against some of the best teams from around the world as well as some of the top teams in region. This will be a great chance for our teams to improve.” Replying to a query, Shabib said the OFA will work on to include the event in its annual calendar.  “The OFA will try to make necessary arrangements to include the tournament in its annual calendar.”

OFA TO RESTART YOUTH CENTRES
“The OFA is going to restart its own youth centres across the Sultanate. At present, these centres are linked with the clubs. This will give the OFA direct access to youth football in the country and help maintain the talent pool for the national teams,” Shabib told Oman Observer.
The OIYC is supported by the Ministry of Sports Affairs, the Oman Football Association, Sabco Sports, Al Jarwani Group, Mwasalat and Tanuf, and is under the Tanfeedh sports tourism initiative.
The matches will kick off at 09:30 on each day, and finish by 17:30 on each day.
Teams will play in pools of four teams, which will give each team a minimum of 3 games. The top teams from each group will then advance to the knock-out stages, with the eventual winner coming from this knock-out stage.
Professional referees will be supplied for every game and the normal rules of football, as per Fifa, will be applied.

Local Qualifying
There will be a local qualifying process for teams to win a spot in the tournament. Events will be held across Oman in the period leading up to the OIYC, with the winner of each regional event from each age group earning free registration in the OIYC.
Welcoming elite teams from renowned academies, the tournament will encourage inbound tourism by hosting talented young players, their families and coaches, and will allow them to experience the authentic hospitality of the Sultanate while they compete with counterparts from different local and regional clubs.
David Graham, Oman Sail CEO and member of the Tanfeedh sports tourism committee said, “The Sport Tourism industry is a resilient sector that is on the rise globally. It brings a range of benefits and in-country value generated through increased numbers of arrivals, hotel occupancy, international media exposure and domestic jobs. We selected grassroot football as one of the sports that can stimulate tourism and boost its contribution to the economy. We look forward to the success of this tournament.”

Anuroop Athiparambath