Valencia CF retain Girls’ and Boys’ Under-16 Pro titles at JSSL Singapore Professional Academy 7s

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SINGAPORE, 31 MARCH 2024 – The 10th edition of the JSSL Singapore Professional Academy 7s came to a thrilling conclusion on Sunday (31 March), with Valencia CF retaining their crown in the Girls’ Under-16 Pro competition after defeating Chonburi FC 2-1 in a nail-biting contest that went into extra time. Valencia CF also successfully defended their Boys’ Under-16 Pro title with a 4-0 victory over Melbourne City FC. 

Guest of Honour and former Liverpool midfielder Danny Murphy attended the final day of the event, and handed out the trophies during the prize presentations. 

The Girls’ Under-16 Pro final took place as rain lashed down on the pitch at The Arena at Woodleigh on Sunday afternoon. Valencia were seeking to avoid a repeat of their 2-0 loss to Chonburi during their group stage opener on Friday, and struck first in the final through centreback Sofia Sancho. Chirarak Khamtan of Chonburi equalised eight minutes later, and the score remained locked at 1-1 after 25 minutes of play to send the match into a 3v3 golden goal knock-out competition. Neither side could score after the first minute and the teams then played 2v2. Another scoreless minute meant the game went to a 1-on-1 battle, and it was Valencia that prevailed with captain Eva Fores Garcia sealing the win – a feat the midfielder described as “a dream come true”. 

Team-mate and fellow goalscorer Sofia Sancho Del Campo said: “It was incredible, we really played for it. We didn’t do our best on the first day but we got better and better, and our captain was magnificent. Although it was hard, we really wanted it and we got it.”

Valencia leftback Ana Jover Bayarri, noting the struggles of playing in the heavy rain, added: “Everything was difficult today, but I think the best way to win is when it’s difficult.”

Their male counterparts had a smoother experience in the Boys’ Under-16 Pro final later on Sunday evening, easing their way to a 4-0 victory to retain their title and extend their unbeaten run this year. Midfielder Victor Garcia Vilchez opened the scoring, netting the first goal in from close range with an assist from captain Victor Duran Carpena, who doubled his side’s advantage in the next minute. The skipper then made another assist for Pablo Ortiz Cataluña to tap the ball in, before scoring Valencia’s fourth goal to close out the win.  

Goalkeeper Luis Romero said: “We did what we’ve been doing throughout the tournament and we kept it going. It went well and we are very happy. We did the same strategy; we focused on ourselves and on what we had to do, and it went well.” 

A record 500 registered teams from 16 nations participated in the event, which took place across five venues in Singapore: The Arena at Woodleigh, the Lion City Sailors Training Centre, Singapore University of Technology and Design, Hougang Stadium and Tampines SAFRA. In addition to the pro teams, promising young footballers aged between six and 16 also competed across 11 boys’ and 4 girls’ categories during the four-day event. 

JSSL Singapore Professional Academy 7s tournament director and owner Harvey Davis said: “We are proud to have successfully staged another wonderful edition of the JSSL Singapore Professional Academy 7s. It’s been an exciting four days of football, with some of the world’s brightest young talent getting the chance to test themselves in a competitive setting while also interacting with their peers from different countries. As we look pack on the past 10 years of our event, we are proud that we’ve been able to provide this platform for aspiring footballers to enjoy the sport they love. Quite a few of the local and international football stars are alumni of the JSSL Singapore Professional Academy 7s. We hope the players take valuable lessons from their outing here, and that their experience forms a core memory in their sporting journeys.”

The JSSL Singapore Professional Academy 7s has played a key part in the youth careers of many pro footballers, including the likes of Liverpool rising star Harvey Elliott (Fulham FC, 2017) and Nottingham Forest forward Anthony Elanga (Manchester United, 2018) competing in the professional category.

A number of established current and former Singapore national footballers were also part of the JSSL Singapore Professional Academy 7s ecosystem. These include midfielder Jacob Mahler, who scored the equaliser during the first leg of Singapore’s World Cup qualifier against China earlier this month, and trailblazing young star Danelle Tan, the first Singaporean woman to play in a European league.

More information about the event is available at https://jssl-singapore7s.com/tournament-info. Full results are available on the official JSSL Singapore Professional Academy 7s app, which is available on the Apple App Store and Google Play.

Credit:JSSL Singapore Professional Academy 7

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