Football really is coming home to its Yorkshire birthplace - with almost 900 young players from some of the biggest football clubs in the world about to take part in the Youdan Trophy in Sheffield.
The stars of the future are hoping to secure their place in history, in the city where the modern game was invented.
The success of the Youdan Trophy – which is now attracting top-flight clubs from as far away as Japan and South Africa – has even taken the organisers by surprise.
The tournament started just three years ago as a way of providing up-and-coming referees with top level match experience – there were just eight teams competing at the inaugural event.
When Youdan Trophy 2017 kicks off on Monday - July 31 - there will be 40 teams battling it out for their place in footballing history.
Clubs from Manchester United to Houston Dynamo, Newcastle United to FC Basel and Everton to Kawaski Frontale are lining up against opposition from as far afield as Iran and United Arab Emirates in an event which will also feature teams from both of Sheffield’s clubs, Wednesday and United.
The winning clubs get to become part of footballing legend – the Youdan Trophy takes its name from the man behind the game’s first interclub tournament that was played just once at Bramall Lane in 1867.
It was sponsored by legendary local entrepreneur Thomas Youdan and won by Hallam FC.
TICKETS: Spectators are welcome at all games. Day tickets can be purchased each day on the door of each venue for just £3. A weekly ticket can be purchased online at www.youdantrophy.com giving access to the full five days of football for just £12.
This summer will also see the inaugural Youdan Trophy Development tournament taking place from Friday, August 18th to Monday, August 21st. It is open to all U12 (9V9) or U15 (11v11) clubs. More details: http://youdantrophy.com/development-2017/
Youdan Trophy organisers You-Are-The-Ref.com believe it’s Sheffield position as the city that invented the game that makes the tournament such a massive draw for foreign teams.
Youdan Trophy’s Keith Hackett said: “These teams have the pick of tournaments anywhere on the planet but they increasingly choose the Youdan Trophy here in Sheffield – it’s a great honour to know we’re becoming the place to see the game’s stars of the future.”
The Youdan Trophy is a unique showcase of the game’s very best new talent via its under 16s and under 14s competition.
Fourteen-year-old ‘wonder kid’, Karamoko Dembélé, of Celtic – who is tipped for greatness – returns for the third year. He was spotted and awarded ‘player of the tournament’ in the inaugural year of the Youdan Trophy.
Top class refereeing is still very much part of the tournament. Mark Clattenburg – whose last major game was overseeing the UEFA Euro 2016 final – is the referee for the under 16s Youdan Trophy final.
Youdan Trophy organisers, Sheffield-based You-Are-The-Ref.com, are the world's leading independent authority and education platform for match officials.
Youdan Trophy 2017 is staged in Sheffield from Monday, July 31 to Friday, August 4. U16 Group games will take place at Sheffield Hallam University Sports Park whilst U14 Group games will take place at the Warminster Road facility of the University of Sheffield.
The Youdan Trophy is being delivered in partnership with Marketing Sheffield, University of Sheffield, Sheffield Hallam University, The Children’s Hospital Charity, Roundabout and The Star.
The ‘not for profit’ Youdan Trophy recently launched a ‘Just Giving’ page to help fund its future development. Donations can be made at: https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/youdan
NOTE: In October 2016 the Government's Intellectual Property Office granted permission for the Youdan Trophy's organisers to register the competition's name as a trademark. The application was opposed by Hallam FC. The club says there is no link between the event and the original tournament held in 1867, and has lodged an appeal against last year's decision. A new ruling has yet to be made.