“I learned a lot and had a great experience.”
This was a common response from the future Korean soccer players who participated in the K League Baseball International Youth Cup Incheon 2023: It’s not often that they get the chance to compete against overseas players of their age group, and they gained a lot from playing against teams from Europe and elsewhere. This is in line with the purpose of the tournament, which aims to strengthen the international competitiveness of K League Youth.
The K League International Youth Cup, organized by the Korea Professional Football Association and co-organized by the Incheon City Football Association, concluded on the 9th with the final match to determine the rankings. The tournament was established by the Korean Football Association (KFA) in response to the fact that K League youth players need a variety of experiences, just as European players of the same age have a wealth of international experience, including the UEFA Champions League.
In Korea, six teams participated in the tournament, including FC Seoul, Suwon Samsung, Jeonbuk Hyundai, and Pohang Steelers Under-18 (U-18) teams, which finished first through fourth in the K League’s Youth Club of the Year awards, as well as hosts Incheon United U-18 and Bupyeonggo. Four European teams – Real Sociedad and Valencia (Spain), Anderlecht (Belgium) and Wolverhampton (England) – and two Asian teams – Tokyo Verdi (Japan) and Chonburi FC (Thailand) – also traveled to Korea.
From the start, the teams were divided into two European and one Asian group so that Korean players could compete against as many international teams as possible. The six teams were divided into two groups and played each other once. At the end of the group stage, the same ranked teams from each group would play each other in a ranking match, including the final. At least three of the six games per team were against international opponents.
Win or lose, it was a valuable experience for the Korean players. “I learned a lot and had a great experience during the tournament,” said Baek Seung-won of the Pohang U-18 team. I felt that I lacked physical and technical skills while playing against overseas teams that I hadn’t faced before. I made up my mind to compensate for these problems in order to become a better player.” Kim Gun-woo (Jeonju Youngsang High School) of the Jeonbuk U-18 team also said, “I was excited to play against famous overseas clubs. It was a tournament where we learned a lot. I think it was a growth opportunity for us to have confidence in any team from overseas.” 온라인바카라
It wasn’t just the domestic players who gained valuable experience from the tournament. René Peter (Belgium), who led Anderlecht to the inaugural title, said, “Experience is the most important thing for players at this age. It was great to see how the youths from Korea and other continents are performing. Even more valuable than winning is the experience our players will gain.” The coaches also had a coaches’ conference where they shared their know-how and philosophy on youth development.
As the results of the inaugural tournament are clear, the federation plans to continue the event in the future. “We will continue to expand and operate the K League International Youth Cup in the future. We will continue to expand and operate the K League International Youth Cup.