The tournament included teams from Zenit’s main academy and its branches. Altogether there were 24 teams and more than 300 children! The children, who train in all districts of the city, proudly putting on Zenit shirts with the team emblem every day, got to play each other for the first time. The children learned what it means to fight for a place in the starting squad. The footballers’ fans were right with them too. The tournament was well attended by the children’s parents and friends, who sometimes cheered so hard that other Russian Premier League stadiums would be envious.
The academy will continue holding such competitions. Once a week branch teams, teams from the main academy, and invited teams from the top football schools in the city, such as Kolomyag and Lokomotiv, will compete to see who’s strongest. That said, the tournaments won’t last just one day, but rather will be played like a regular season, with matches once a week. The tournament will solve several serious tasks: the young footballers of the academy will play matches in the uniform of the club they admire so much, and get the opportunity to test their level of play and learn what else they need to work on. Meanwhile, specialists will see inter-Zenit matches, based on which the best players will have an additional chance to earn being called up to the teams of the main academy.
The first tournament of Zenit branches (all information about the branches and how to apply to them can be found here) was won by two teams from the main academy (footballers born in 1999 and 2002), as well as by players from the Zenit-Moskovsky branch (2000) and Zenit-Inkon (2001).
– We’re happy with the level of the tournament, as well as with how our youngest players showed themselves, said Henk van Stee, the director of the Zenit Academy.
– We see that every boy in St. Petersburg is ready to do all he can and can’t do to wear the blue-white-light blue jersey, and to play for Zenit in the Russian league and in European cups.