The third annual Al Kass International Cup enters its fifth day today, with a dozen under-16 teams from high-profile football clubs competing at Aspire Academy for some $248,000 in prize money.
The 10-day tournament, which runs until Jan. 23, features local teams from Aspire International and Aspire Qatar, who will face international counterparts Real Madrid, Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) and Brazil’s Fluminense.
Newcomers include Manchester City, FC Porto, AC Milan, FC Barcelona, Auxerre, Japan’s Kashiwa Reysol, and Chicago Fire – the first team from the US to compete in the tournament.
The participating teams will be divided into four groups of three, with the top two teams from each group qualifying for the quarterfinals to compete for the top prize of $75,000. Prizes of up to $3,000 for the most valuable player and best goalkeeper of the tournament are also up for grabs.
Prizes for fans
The matches are open to the public, and fans who turn out can compete to win prizes worth some $5,000. For each day of the tournament, two winners will be chosen in the categories of the best fan banner and outfit. In addition, department store 51 East will give away 10 PlayStation 4 consoles during a raffle at the closing ceremony of the tournament.
Speaking to Doha News, an Al Kass Cup spokesman said:
“We have 11 teams from around the world, Real Madrid…..(all the others) and also two teams from Qatar, Aspire and Aspire International. So if you love football, you can come to watch these teams.”
Matches start at 3:30pm and are held on the outdoor football pitches in Aspire. Here’s the full schedule.
Players in the youth league sometimes go on to compete on an adult level. Football prodigies such as Adrien Rabiot-Provost of France, who plays as a midfielder for PSG and Kingsley Coman, who went onto become the youngest player in PSG’s history that same year, have both competed for the Al Kass Cup.
As Qatar is gearing up for the 2022 World Cup, initiatives like this help to promote the country as a first-class footballing nation, according to Hassan Al Thawadi, Secretary General of the 2022 Supreme Committee.
“We have already seen players from previous Al Kass tournaments represent their country internationally, so there is a strong possibility that some of this year’s participants will be back for the World Cup in 2022,” he said in a statement.
Are you planning to attend the matches? Thoughts?