The third edition of the Premier League Next Generation Cup presented by Reliance Foundation, will commence on May 17, 2023 at the Reliance Corporate Park (RCP) in Mumbai. Academy teams of four overseas clubs will compete against the Reliance Foundation Development League (RFDL) National Phase table toppers – Sudeva Delhi FC, ATK Mohun Bagan FC, Reliance Foundation Young Champs and Bengaluru FC. The youth teams of Premier League Clubs Everton FC, West Ham United FC and Wolverhampton Wanderers FC will be joined by Stellenbosch FC from the South African Premier Soccer League (PSL).
The matches will be held across May 17, May 20, May 23 and May 26 in Mumbai, with the final being played on May 26. The tournament aims to provide competitive international exposure to young Indian talent across all participating teams.
The Premier League Next Generation Cup is being hosted in India for the third time, with the first one being held in 2019. Last year, the tournament was played in the UK, where Bengaluru FC and Kerala Blasters FC were the touring Indian sides. This edition provides four slots to Indian clubs as opposed to two last year, giving a large pool of players to gain invaluable experience to develop their skills.
Sudeva Delhi FC, ATK Mohun Bagan FC, Reliance Foundation Young Champs & Bengaluru FC emerged as the top four teams after two intensive rounds in RFDL – the Regional Qualifiers and National Group Stage. This saw over 300 matches across nine regions in the country, comprising teams from Indian Super League, I-League Division I&II and Independent Academies nominated by the State Football Associations, making it India’s largest and most inclusive elite youth football tournament. The extensive schedule was aimed to provide youngsters in this age group with more game time and experience, leading to their overall growth as athletes and footballers. These teams will now compete in the RFDL National Championship for the silverware before they head on to the Next Generation Cup.
Reliance Foundation Spokesperson said, “India is teeming with unexplored football talent. With Reliance Foundation Development League we want to offer our budding footballers optimum exposure and competitive game time to sharpen their skills. We are thrilled with the success of this season and believe it will inspire more players to chase their dreams and reach their full potential. We are extremely delighted to continue our partnership with the Premier League to support football in India. And wish all the teams the very best of luck for the upcoming tournament and hope it will be a memorable experience for all.”
Premier League Director of Football, Neil Saunders said, “We’re excited to be returning to India with the Next Generation Cup for the third time. The tournament marks an important partnership between the Premier League and the Reliance Foundation Development League.”
“The Premier League is proud to have a passionate fanbase in India and we hope our work together will continue to help develop and grow the game here. The young players representing Everton, West Ham and Wolves have a special opportunity to travel to India and experience the culture and football in a different part of the world. We wish them luck against their counterparts from India and South Africa.”
The eight-team tournament will see clubs being divided into two groups of four sides each. They will square off against each other in a round-robin format in a competition whose primary objective is to pit developing young talents against each other. The tournament will be a carnival of the best talents demonstrating their skill sets on the field.
The Next Generation Cup in 2020 saw the Chelsea youth side emerging as the champions amongst the six teams that participated. Stellenbosch FC won the second season in 2022. This will be West Ham United’s second appearance in this competition and also the first time that Everton and the Wolves take part in the same.