Generali CEE Cup final is a family fun day

The annual football tournament for under 19s takes place at Ďolíček

This year's Generali CEE Cup will have its final July 27 at the famous Bohemian 1905's Ďolíček Stadium in Prague's Vršovice district.

The Generali CEE Cup is for under 19-year-old football players and will have 12 teams including two from Brazil and this year for the first time one from China. In total, eight countries are represented. They will play in a 20-game tournament beginning July 21.

Before the final there will be some family fun at Ďolíček (by League5 football futsal & freestyle Academy). Starting at 3 p.m. and running to 5 p.m. “The aim is to bring people in Prague together to have fun,” Andrew Argent, the organizer of the family activities for the tournament, said. There will be six stations where kids and their parents can practice different skills with a football. “Plus there will be a mini football pitch where they can play some games. It will be a fun day of football. Either they will be with their friends or if some parents want to join, it is open to anyone, whatever the level,” he said. The staff speaks English, French and Czech to assist people in getting started. Stations include a crossbar challenge to shoot the ball, various courses to kick the ball, and a quiz.

“After enjoying a nice afternoon, they can stay and watch the final,” he said, adding that the match last year between Czech team Sparta and a Brazilian team Fluminese FC was very exciting.

Up to 40 children can also participate in the final match as ball boys or preparing the opening ceremony. Entry to the children's program is free, and participants will get a gift such as a shirt or similar item while supplies last. Children will also get free ice cream from Hýskovská zmrzlina.

For many of the children and even some of the parents, this will be the first time they have been allowed to play on a professional pitch.

The event also has a charity aspect. Proceeds from tickets and everything sold in the stadium, including a raffle, will go to UNICEF to help children in Ukraine. The raffle will take place between the halves of the final.

This is the sixth year for the tournament, and interest has been growing steadily. The teams change slightly each time, with five or six replacements and most games except for the final take place at Strahov Stadium.

The tournament gives people a chance to see the possible football stars of tomorrow, as the under 19s is the last step of the football academy before players become professional. Sparta, Slavia and Bohemians are the Czech teams in the tournament that people may want to watch.Other invited teams include Bosnian team FK Sarajevo, Macedonian team FC Academy Pandev, Hungarian teams VASAS FC Budapest and ETO FC Györ, Slovak team AS Trencin and German club Red Bull Leipzig. Further there will be two Brazilian teams — Associação Atlética Ponte Preta and last year's finalist Fluminese FC. Asia will be represented by Chinese team Beijing Renhe FC.

The Brazilian teams play a different kind of football, Roberto De Blasio, chairman of the Generali CEE Cup organizing committee, said. “Brazilians are more technical and here it is more physical,” De Blasio said. The Generali CEE Cup allows the teams, which have mostly played within the same region, to experience a different approach.

China has been pushing to improve its international standing in football, and the country hopes to host the World Cup eventually. “They have a lot of investment in football,” De Blasio said, adding that a Chinese company CEFC (China Energy Company Limited) has bought a majority stake in Slavia Praha.

Beijing Renhe FC will be in Prague for two weeks with 30 people including players, coaches, managers and trainers. They will also play in the tournament's first game July 21 against last year's winner, Sparta.

The visiting teams will have a chance to interact with each other off the court as well, as they will all be staying at the Hotel International Prague, the official hotel of the tournament.

Another new feature this year is that statistical analysis of each game will be made by a Russian company called INSTAT. This will help the teams and their coaches to see their strengths and weaknesses. The statistics will also be shared with the press.

A professional level seminar on scouting will also take place. LF Scouting Software will explain the value of scouting software, and scouts from Italian teams Udinese Calcio and Atalanta BC will also share their knowledge and experience.

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