The FA Youth Challenge Cup was founded in 1952, enabling players between 15 and 18 to see which team is the best in England and Wales.
This month the tournament progresses into the third round where Premier League and Championship clubs enter the mix.
Over 400 clubs enter the competition, but it is the youth squads of elite Premier League teams that dominate. Manchester United has won it a record 10 times followed by Chelsea with 9 and Arsenal with 7.
Chelsea has dominated the competition in recent years, as is shown by the wealth of young talent breaking into their first team. The club has reached 10 of the previous 14 finals, winning 7 of them. Of those finals, three consecutive triumphs came against Manchester City, who also boast a wealth of young talent in their club.
The tournament provides an opportunity for the best youth players to show their skill and propel their chances to break into the first teams. Winners of the competition include George Best, Paul Gascoigne, Paul Pogba, David Beckham, and the class of ’92 as well as current England stars such as Mason Mount, Reece James, and Tammy Abraham. Players will be looking to lift the trophy and replicate the careers of the aforementioned icons.
Teams To Keep An Eye On
Teams to look out for are often the “Big Six” clubs whose wealth in talent and resources mean they dominate the competition and therefore could display the beginning of some global stars.
Arsenal travel to Colchester, Manchester City go to Middlesbrough, whilst Liverpool, Chelsea, and Manchester United start at home against Fleetwood Town, Leyton Orient, and Scunthorpe United, respectively.
Liverpool will be looking to go one step further this year after losing the final to Aston Villa last season. Villa begins their journey against Leicester City.
Another team to keep an eye on is West Ham who currently sits at the top of the Premier League 2. And although that competition is for Under-23s, players such as Sonny Perkins are showing their talent and could enhance their reputation in the tournament. West Ham kick-off against Newcastle United.
Potential Giant Killers
Similar to the senior FA Cup, the Youth Cup provides an opportunity for teams much lower down the pyramid, whose funds are considerably smaller. So far Rugby Town FC and Bromley FC represent the only non-league contingents left in the competition, their first teams sitting in the 9th and 5th tiers of English soccer, respectively.
Rugby Town reached the first round proper for only the third time in their history, beating Solihull Moors. Since then, they have beaten Long Eaton and Morecambe to earn their place in the third round, facing Cheltenham. They will be hoping their dreamlike journey through the competition continues.
The FA Youth Cup provides a platform for all youth players around England and Wales to show what they are made of. Despite large clubs dominating the competition, upsets may occur. All we can be sure of is that we are watching some of the most promising young players in the country.
Improve Your GameJust 1.99 p/m
Exclusive drills and sessions, get involved today!
- 100’s of Drills
- Coach to Camera Videos
- Sessions from Pro’s
- Industry Leading Advice