Every team participating in this years International Champions Cup Futures Tournament has the goal of going home with the title of tournament champion.
However, this means that only one of the 24 teams from the Boys side and one of the 12 teams from the Girls side will be going home with the trophy. What might get lost in all the focus of winning and losing though is the real ethos of youth soccer, which at the end of the day, comes down to getting better and having fun.
Luckily, it seems the teams here down in Bradenton, Florida at the IMG Academy haven’t lost sight of that.
Friendships have been made, goals have been scored, and some of the best youth players in the world have had the opportunity to match their talents against elite competition.
This is another element of the Futures tournament that’s even more important than the wins and losses that take place over the week. It’s the ability for coaches and players to trade ideas, learn new techniques and studying different playing styles from teams scattered across the world. Coaches and players from the United States, Europe, South America and Asia all together under one (figuertive) roof, sharing their strategies and their love of the game.
International bestseller Soccernomics, written by Simon Kuper and Stefan Szymanski, has an entire chapter dedicated to why networking in soccer is important.
When they speak about the successes of legendary coaches such as long-time Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger and current Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola they attribute a lot of it to those coaches ability to network and learn different styles of soccer from different clubs around the world.
“Ideas belong to everyone and I have stolen as many as I could.”
Pep Guardiola in Soccernomics
So while only two teams will go home with the trophy, every team will be going home with a melting pot of stories, ideas and strategies they can apply in their own leagues and lives. You could argue that the victories and goals are great, but the connections made over the week could prove to be even better.