Indian & South African teams join Next Generation Cup 2024!

The Next Generation Cup is returning this summer as teams from England, India and South Africa come together for an exciting tournament hosted by the Premier League.

Taking place from August 1-4, the competition offers India’s brightest young talents from the Indian Super League the chance to compete with equivalent age-group teams from Premier League Academies and the South African Premier Soccer League.

The fifth edition of the Next Gen Cup will welcome eight Academy teams, including Aston Villa, Crystal Palace, Everton and Tottenham Hotspur, who have been confirmed as the four clubs who will be representing the Premier League.

They will be joined by East Bengal FC, Muthoot FA, Winners Punjab FC and Stellenbosch FC.

The three teams representing India for this edition have been chosen through the Reliance Foundation Development League (RFDL), a pioneering tournament in India that provides valuable game-time to professional clubs, with the latest edition featuring 57 teams playing 299 matches.

Last year, the Next Generation Cup was played in India, with Wolverhampton Wanderers beating Stellenbosch in the final.

‘Fantastic learning experience’

Neil Saunders, the Premier League’s Director of Football, said: “The Premier League is once again delighted to be hosting the Next Generation Cup and looks forward to what promises to be another great tournament.

“The event serves as a fantastic learning experience for the young players both on and off the pitch, providing them with a platform to interact with one another as well as learn about each other’s cultures.

“It builds on our continued support for the development of the game in India and we hope everyone taking part has an enjoyable and beneficial experience.”

Opportunity to showcase talent
Team India and Bengaluru goalkeeper, Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, lauded the Next Generation Cup, being the first Indian to play in the UEFA Europa League for Norwegian club, Stabaek.

He said: “The Next Generation Cup is an incredible opportunity for youth teams to showcase their talent and compete against some of the best young players from international clubs.

“Tournaments like these are crucial for developing Indian football, providing our youngsters with much-needed international exposure.

“Competing against international talent and learning from diverse coaching styles was vital to my growth as a footballer, and I’m glad that the Next Generation Cup provides this platform to today’s young players, with Reliance Foundation aiding the growth of the sport in India. I wish all the teams luck and hope they make the most of this fantastic opportunity.”

How the Next Generation Cup works

The competition will run over four match rounds, held at Aston Villa’s Bodymoor Training Ground, with two groups of four clubs playing each other before proceeding to a final fixture based on table positions to close the tournament.

This will be held at Loughborough University Stadium, where this year’s winners will be crowned.

All matches will be 11-a-side and will be 50 minutes long, with two 25-minute halves being played in each fixture.

As well as giving the young Indian and South Africa footballers the chance to play in the UK against English academy teams, the Premier League and its clubs will also provide knowledge-sharing workshops.

Several players who have featured in previous editions of the Next Gen Cup have gone on to make their Premier League debut in recent seasons, including West Ham’s George Earthy, Leicester City’s Michael Golding and Sydie Peck, who played for Arsenal at the time but made his first team start for Sheffield United.

Ethan Wheatley, who recently became the 250th player to progress from Manchester United’s academy to the senior team, participated in the tournament in 2020.

In India, more than 40 players who have played in the competition have stepped up and have gone on to join clubs in senior football leagues across the country.

The Next Gen Cup is part of the Premier League’s long-standing partnership with Football Sports Development Limited (FSDL), part of the Indian Super League.

The relationship supports the player-development journey of those involved, enabling them to have new cultural experiences and make friends with other young players from different countries.

The agreement with FSDL also sees the Premier League provide the Indian Super League with broader support for the development of the game in India.

This includes elite coaching and referee development and the sharing of knowledge and expertise in all areas of the elite game, including governance, talent development, commercial growth, administration and wider community development.

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