The latest round of UEFA international development tournaments is under way, giving young male and female players across Europe the opportunity to showcase their talents and develop their skills.
All 54 national associations are involved in this batch of Under-16 mini-tournaments for boys, with the first staged in the Algarve and featuring teams from Portugal, Germany, Spain and 'hosts' the Netherlands. Portugal then served as host for the first of the girls' development tournaments, involving U16 teams from Germany, Scotland and Spain.
What they said:
Jeroen Roest, tournament director, Algarve
Our goal is to make the teams feel freedom and the trust to do whatever they think is best for the development of their players; each team develops in its own way. This is the third year in a row that the teams are really satisfied with the organisation of the tournament and we see the standard of performance rise each year. We tried to make the teams feel at home, using one stadium for all matches for the boys and girls and the hotels were situated really close to the training facilities.
Olivier Doglia, UEFA football development manager
By seeing the impressive number of national associations involved in this programme and by speaking with the national team coaches, we are delighted to see that we are reaching our main targets. We are complementing the elite youth player pathway across the national associations, offering more international experience to young talented players and enabling them to better prepare for qualifying matches at U17 level next year.
The development tournaments also allow the coaches to provide players with important game time, as these events are organised with the emphasis on development rather than competition. Tailor-made presentations on match-fixing have been also introduced for this specific age category in order to reinforce UEFA's policy on integrity in football.
What comes next?
Following the first UEFA international development tournaments in the Algarve, Dublin and St George's Park, the schedule for the remainder of the season is as follows for U16 tournaments:
Croatia (1-5 March) Serbia, Slovenia, Scotland
Gibraltar (28 March-1 April) San Marino, Malta, FYR Macedonia
Azerbaijan (10-14 April) Greece, Georgia, Kazakhstan
Montenegro (12-16 April) Luxembourg, Liechtenstein, Andorra
Romania (15-19 April) Hungary, Bulgaria, Moldova
Faroe Islands (17-21 April) Israel, Wales, Northern Ireland
Israel (26-30 April) Ukraine, Turkey, Poland
Belarus (26-30 April) Estonia, Lithuania, Sweden
Finland (27 April -1 May) Bosnia and Herzegovina, Russia, Latvia
Albania (1-5 May) Armenia, Montenegro, Cyprus
Portugal (8-12 May) Belgium, Norway, Italy
After the season kick-off for international development tournaments in Portugal and the Republic of Ireland, the schedule for Women's U16 tournaments is as follows:
Croatia (6-10 March) Serbia, Slovenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Montenegro (5-9 April) Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, FYR Macedonia
England (7-14 April) France, Switzerland, Sweden
Azerbaijan (15-19 April) Greece, Georgia, Kazakhstan
Romania (20-26 April) Slovakia, Bulgaria, Moldova, Hungary
Faroe Islands (22-26 April) Israel, Wales, Northern Ireland
Israel (1-5 May) Ukraine, Turkey, Poland
Belarus (1-5 May) Estonia, Lithuania, Armenia
Finland (2-6 May) Bosnia and Herzegovina, Russia, Latvia
Portugal (3-7 May) Belgium, Norway, Italy
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