Three confederations are currently competing in a U17 tournament in Turkey, as part of UEFA ASSIST's work to enhance football development around the world.
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Contributing to the development of football has long been one of UEFA's central objectives. Through its international assistance programme UEFA ASSIST, which responds to the needs of national associations and confederations across the globe, UEFA aims to increase solidarity and facilitate football development worldwide.
UEFA ASSIST thus provides support for member associations and confederations in four specific areas – education and knowledge-sharing, development of youth football, supporting infrastructure projects and assisting UEFA's member associations.
"UEFA aims to work as much as possible in the development of football, and I feel it is our duty to assist other confederations and their member associations by sharing our experience, expertise and knowledge so they can reach their goals," said UEFA President Aleksander Čeferin. "We are looking forward to helping them grow football in their continents and also to participating in the development of the game outside Europe."
From 4–9 March, UEFA ASSIST is staging an Under-17 tournament in Antalya, Turkey. The event will feature teams from three continents – Angola, Cameroon, Guinea, Morocco, Nigeria, Senegal, Tanzania and Uganda from the Confederation of African Football (CAF); Australia, which belongs to the Asian Football Confederation (AFC); and Belarus, Montenegro and Turkey, representing UEFA.
"This initiative is part of the UEFA ASSIST programme, which aims to share knowledge and best practice and to offer assistance to UEFA's sister confederations and their member associations," said UEFA's head of national associations' international relations Eva Pasquier.
"In this context, the tournament in Antalya will provide opportunities for talented young players to gain experience playing in a competitive environment, while also learning about different cultures which will broaden their footballing education on and off the pitch."
The goal of this event is to give the eight CAF teams that have reached the final qualifying round for this year's FIFA U-17 World Cup – plus Australia, who have already booked their finals place – the opportunity to play a preparatory tournament. It is also a chance for the three UEFA countries to take on opponents of a kind they would otherwise rarely meet.
“It is our pleasure to host such a meaningful tournament in Antalya which hosts thousands of teams at its top class football facilities every year,” said the Turkish Football Federation’s first vice-president Servet Yardımcı.
“Thanks to the UEFA ASSIST Programme, 12 teams from three confederations will have the opportunity to evaluate themselves in a competitive tournament and get ready for the 2019 FIFA Under 17 World Cup. Another value of this tournament is to bring youngsters from different geographical locations together and introduce them new cultures. I would like to thank UEFA for pioneering the ASSIST initiative and opening a new path between confederations.”
The chief executive officer of Football Federation Australia, David Gallop praised the idea of creating the tournament, adding that it will be "a major boost for our preparations for this year's FIFA U-17 World Cup".
"Our international relations team has been working to establish strong relationships with confederations and associations around the world. These relationships in turn enable us to further our strategic objectives. In this case, it's about building up the competitive opportunities for our youth national teams," Gallop said.
"We thank UEFA for the opportunity. Playing international matches against players from Turkey, Tanzania and Guinea is unique for Australian footballers of any age or gender and will provide a brilliant chance for our boys to benchmark themselves against players of similar ages from different confederations."
The tournament will consist of three groups of four teams played in a round-robin format. With eight of the 12 sides coming from CAF, the groups have been designed to ensure a maximum of three African teams per pool to guarantee that they face at least one team from a different confederation. And with the emphasis on development rather than competitiveness, the tournament will conclude following the culmination of the group stage.