Sydney FC adds glamour to Christchurch International Cup
The presence of A-League glamour club Sydney FC at the 2019 Christchurch International Cup (CIC) underlines how far the biggest sports youth event in Canterbury has come in size and prestige in only three years.
Expectations are high when over 1000 young footballers across 74 teams will kick off the fourth edition of the Christchurch International Cup on July 6 at the state-of-the-art Christchurch Football Centre in Yaldhurst.
In a very short period, the CIC has become the highlight of the season for young footballers from around New Zealand, as they can match themselves against their best peers from around the country and abroad.
Tournament director Lew Gordon says the skill level of the participating teams and the matches has grown incrementally with each tournament.
“And with academy teams from Sydney FC and Onehunga with their Wellington Phoenix connection, as well as other high-profile clubs in the draw, we may see several future All Whites in action,” says Gordon, who will be welcoming clubs from every corner of New Zealand, including large contingents from Auckland, Wellington and Dunedin.
The size of the tournament has increased to the point that that different age groups will now compete across 10 days, with the U14 teams playing on July 6-8, the U13s on July 9-11 and the U12-U10 on July 13-15.
Gordon says that the players love coming to Christchurch because they get a small taste of what it is like on the big stage.
“We try to run every game like it is a FIFA event, with proper match officials, coming onto the pitch with music and just making sure all the details feel professional, and the players love it.”
Due to the overwhelming interest in the tournament, the CIC organisers were this year forced to split off the U15 tournament into a separate event, which was held at Easter, and were not able to accommodate the U9 age-groups, but are aiming to organise a separate U9 event later this year.
More than half the competing teams are from outside of the region, and the players, families and support staff will provide a considerable economic boost to the city during the slow winter months.
“We try to provide all the visitors with as much information as possible about the city and the region and because the tournament is held in the school holidays, many families tend to stay at bit longer or travel around, which is great for the Canterbury area.”