The Artek Cup 2018 international junior league football tournament kicked off at the Artek International Children's Center, with junior league academies from leading Russian football clubs and other former Soviet republics sending their teams to Crimea for the first time. Artek Director Alexei Kasprzhak greeted tournament participants and guests and expressed hope that the event would open up Crimea for big league athletes.
Artek Director Alexei Kasprzhak said the junior league tournament in Crimea was another element linking the peninsula with mainland Russia. “Crimean football cannot exist independently of national football leagues; it must be part of big league Russian football. As the children’s capital of Russia, Artek has brought together junior league teams from the best national clubs and from other countries. The competitions will provide the Crimean select team and our guests with priceless experience. And the fans will experience the thrill of our own improvised World Cup,” he noted.
Football player Roman Adamov, a Merited Master of Sport of Russia and a 2008 UEFA Euro bronze medalist, attended the tournament’s opening ceremony.
“Crimea is a football region. I attended a training session here 22 years ago. I hope the Artek Cup heralds the initial revival of our football traditions. Today, many teams and academies have changed their training systems, and I believe that we will now see a generation of future players. Most important, it is necessary to avoid injuries during the tournament. These young people should stay healthy, enjoy the weather, Artek and Crimea,” he said.
The competitions involve eight junior league teams from Russia, Moldova and Uzbekistan, including Spartak Moscow, Lokomotiv Moscow, Rostov/Rostov, Kuban Krasnodar, Spartak Tashkent/Uzbekistan, Master-Saturn Yegoryevsk/ Russia, Champion Taraclia/Moldova and Crimea Russia. In all, over 100 young football players have arrived at Artek.
The center’s upgraded stadium for 7,000 spectators is hosting the matches. The facility has a football pitch with artificial turf that meets FIFA standards. Experts recommended by the referee-inspector committee of the Crimean Football Union are acting as referees.
The Artek Cup 2018 tournament aims to support the national football system and to symbolically unite players and fans in the run-up to the 2018 FIFA World Cup, as well as to develop and popularize junior league football.