- The Blue Stars/FIFA Youth Cup 2018 takes place on 9-10 May
- Sixteen teams are taking part, six of them women’s teams
- Gomes: “We’ll see them playing in the big leagues in a couple of years”
The 80th Blue Stars/FFA Youth Cup is about to get under way. The 16 teams taking part – six of them women’s teams – will experience two intense days of competition, with matches to be played and dreams to be fulfilled in an exciting tournament.
As the teams put the finishing touches to their preparations, FIFA.com spoke exclusively to former Portugal international and FIFA Legend Nuno Gomes, who has twice taken part in the competition as a member of Benfica’s coaching set-up and knows just how important the Blue Stars/FIFA Youth Cup is to the career of a young player.
Looking to the future
“It’s a very important tournament for young players,” said the ex-Benfica and Fiorentina striker. “It helps them grow and develop, and they come up against other very competitive teams from different countries. The exposure they get on an international stage here is very similar to what they later experience with their national teams.”
An U-19 tournament, the Blue Stars/FIFA Youth Cup is an ideal showcase for players looking to take the final step into elite club football. “Many of the players you see in international football have come through Blue Stars and I’m sure that many of the players taking part this year will be running out in the big leagues in a couple of seasons.”
The former front man, who scored 29 goals for Portugal, added: “It’s a very important event in players’ careers, not just because of the number of people who come to watch games. Aside from all the fans and the locals, there are scouts from different clubs, which is always a source of motivation.”
Those are the ingredients that make this a high-quality competition, one in which players give their all to lift the coveted trophy, as Gomes explained: “All the teams are strong and it’s the little details that make the difference between winning and losing. In terms of fitness, the strongest teams are here, and fitness is crucial in a tough competition like this. The matches come thick and fast and there’s barely any time to recover.”
To mark the 80th edition of the tournament, Gomes is set to play for the FIFA Legends in a match to be shown live on FIFA’s YouTube channel and FIFA.com.
“It’s going to be fun for us and a chance to share with people,” he said. “There are a lot of fans who’ll be going to see their favourite players of yesteryear and some players they didn’t have the chance to see in the flesh when they were younger.
"For us it will be an opportunity to catch up with old colleagues and friends, with players we shared our careers with. It’s going to be great to be able to entertain people and have a bit of fun ourselves.”