As is traditional at this time of year, several countries in Europe will be enjoying an extended weekend at the end of this week to mark Whitmonday.
And for professional football circles, particularly in Germany and Holland, this Bank Holiday weekend has now become synonymous for the staging of several end-of-season youth tournaments, involving elite professional clubs, following the conclusion of the domestic league season.
What makes many of these tournaments extra special is that they are organised by people involved with local amateur clubs, who rely on dozens of local volunteers that all work together to ensure that everyone who participates and comes to watch the matches are given a warm and friendly welcome.
These are the places where people working at the grass-roots of the game rub shoulders with the potential stars of tomorrow, which makes the atmosphere both unique and special.
For well over a decade now, one of Scout7’s key industry initiatives has been to support these type of tournaments.
We believe that the tournaments we choose to partner with should be considered amongst the best in the world for their age groups and during the next week, we will be heavily involved in supporting three different competitions being played across the continent.
These tournaments will see a combined 26 elite teams from 20 different countries take part, giving club scouts a fantastic opportunity to see hundreds of players, some of whom they will not have seen live due to fact they are based outside of Europe, during one single trip.
Here is a summary of each competition we are involved with:
14-16 May: Spax Cup and NextGen Series
The first two events are taking place simultaneously and both feature under 19 club teams.
The first event is the Spax Cup, which has been organised annually by the German club TuS Ennepetal for over 40 years.
As well as entering their own team, the Oberliga club will be hosting three of Germany’s leading U19 teams: FC Schalke 04, VfL Wolfsburg (both of whom finished runners-up in their respective Jugend-Bundesliga regional divisions) and Hamburger SV. They will be joined by two English clubs, Arsenal and Liverpool, and two major Brazilian clubs in Atlético-MG and the current Spax Cup holders Fluminense.
The eight teams will be split into two groups, with group matches being played over Saturday and Sunday. The top two in each group will then play in the semi-finals on Monday, which will be followed by the placement matches and the final.
Fluminense are returning to Germany to defend their Spax Cup title
As the Spax Cup is taking place in Ennepetal, a brand new competition will be taking place across the border in Holland at the famous Olympic Stadium in Amsterdam: the NextGen Series.
NextGen’s format its identical to that of the Spax Cup and will feature two leading Dutch clubs, Ajax and PSV Eindhoven, England’s Tottenham Hotspur, Spanish giants FC Barcelona, Galatasaray of Turkey and Ajax’s satellite club in South Africa, Ajax Cape Town.
The two remaining places have been taken up by two academies: Ghana’s Right to Dream and ASA United, whose squad will be made up of players coming from two different centres, one based in Ghana and another in Ecuador.
In addition to managing scouting accreditation and on-site support in the stadiums, we will be providing live-streaming at both of these competitions, which will enable Scout7 clients to watch all the games remotely via their Intelligent Sports Framework.
NextGen have assembled a strong line-up for their inaugural tournament
These games will be available to watch from a brand new Tournament Partner widget, which is available to all clients, upon request, at no extra cost.
All player, squad and team information will also be published in our global database, allowing scouts to enter their reports from the tournament at the end of each day.
18-29 May: Toulon Tournament
A little under 48 hours after the conclusion of both the Spax Cup and the NextGen Series, we will once again be heavily involved in supporting the 44th edition of the prestigious Toulon Tournament.
This year’s event will be tinged with sadness, as it will be the first edition to take place since the passing of the competition’s founder, Maurice Revello.
In the 1960s, Mr Revello was a man ahead of his time. He was the first person to have the vision of bringing together different youth international teams, from each of the world’s continents, at a single tournament, predating FIFA’s World Youth Championship by almost a decade. Without him, we would not have enjoyed over 40 years of elite international football in Toulon and I hope that this year’s edition will turn out to be a fitting tribute to him.
The ten nations taking part are France, England, Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Paraguay, Mali, Guinea, Portugal, Mexico and Japan. The final three of these nations are using the tournament as part of their preparations for the Olympic Games later on this summer, which means that players born in 1993 or after will be eligible to take part in the tournament.
It is the second successive time that Mexico have warmed up for an Olympic Games in Toulon and they will be looking to emulate their successes in 2012, where they went on to win Olympic Gold after securing the Toulon title with a 3-0 final victory over Turkey.
As well as managing all the accreditation and on-site support, we have also been given the privilege by the organisers of nominating the winner of the Scout7 John Haynes Trophy at the end of the tournament, which is awarded to the tournament’s breakthrough player.
Many of the award’s recipients have gone on to have great achievements in the game since it was first awarded in 2008 and last year’s winner, England’s Duncan Watmore, has experienced a breakthrough Premier League season with Sunderland this year.
Duncan Watmore won last year's Scout7 John Haynes Trophy
As with the Spax Cup and NextGen Series, all match information and video from every game will be available on the ISF and via ProScout7, so that scouts can complete their post-match reports and player analysis online.
If you would like any further information on any of the three tournaments, please feel free to contact us. Otherwise, we hope to see you or one your club colleagues on site at one of these events at some point in the next three weeks!