A Newcastle Jets youth selection will be exposed to international competition this July when a squad ventures to Shandong Province in China to take part in the annual Weifang Cup.
The Weifang Cup is an international youth football tournament that was founded in 2006, and which routinely attracts development teams from some of the best club sides and football nations from around the globe.
Between July 23 and 29 this year players from the Club’s PS4 National Premier Leagues teams combined with members of the Emerging Jets system will venture to China to challenge the likes of FC Tokyo (Japan), Chivas Guadalajara (Mexico), Odense Boldklub (Denmark) and VfL Wolfsburg (Germany).
Indeed, a total of eight under 18 teams will be split into two groups to play in a round-robin format, with the top two sides from each section advancing to a playoff for first to fourth and the bottom two sides from each pool playing off for positions fifth to eighth. The format guarantees the Jets selection five games against sides from different football geographies and cultures.
While Australia has a long association with the Weifang Cup - the Young Socceroos featuring current Jets Jason Hoffman and Daniel Mullen won the second ever edition of the tournament in 2007 - Jets Chief Executive Officer Lawrie McKinna confirmed that Newcastle’s participation in the tournament is down to the strong ties that the Club has developed in China.
“LEDMAN Group’s investment in the Club and by association the Hyundai A-League and Australian football has been recognised in China, and these are the types of doors that are now opening for Newcastle Jets and its players and staff,” McKinna said.
“We are extremely proud to have been invited to participate in the 2017 Weifang Cup, which is acknowledged by FIFA and approved by the Asian Football Confederation.”
“Last year world heavyweights Real Madrid participated in the Weifang Cup which highlights how highly regarded the tournament is,” he said.
Northern NSW Football has agreed to work with the Jets to reschedule local fixtures affected by the Club’s participation in the tournament.
“We thank Northern NSW Football for recognising the exceptional development and cultural opportunity that exists for the players ultimately picked to participate in our Weifang Cup squad, and helping us to accommodate the tournament into their scheduling accordingly,” McKinna added.
Selected matches from the 2017 Weifang Cup will be broadcast across China on stations including CCTV, Shandong TV, Beijing TV, Tianjin TV, Fujian TV, and Liaoning TV. The tournament also attracts significant attention from the nation’s written press, which will provide the Jets with a further opportunity to positively build its brand in China.
2017 Weifang Cup
When: Sunday 23 July to Saturday 29 July 2017
Where: Weifang City, Shandong Province, China
Player Eligibility: Players must be born on or after 1 January 1999
Confirmed Teams: Newcastle Jets (Australia), FC Tokyo (Japan), Chivas Guadalajara (Mexico), Odense Boldklub (Denmark), VfL Wolfsburg (Germany)
Past Winners: Shandong Luneng (China), Young Socceroos (Australia), Espanyol (Spain), China PR (China), Chivas Guadalajara (Mexico), Villarreal (Spain), São Paulo (Brazil), River Plate (Argentina), VfL Wolfsburg (Germany), Desportivo Brasil (Brazil)