Kakà: “The Blue Stars Fifa Youth Cup is an extraordinary tournament, a platform for young champions”

While injury prevented Kaka from showing his skills when he traveled to the Blue Stars/Fifa Youth Cup in 2000, the Brazilian legend holds treasured memories of the tournament, having been part of a triumphant São Paulo squad. Ahead of the 2023 edition of the illustrious competition, which will take place in Zurich on 17 and 18 May, FIFA met the former FIFA World Player of the Year. Kaka was a fresh-faced 18-year-old when he departed for the event at the turn of the millennium and explained how getting up close to elite international teams was of enormous value. “Being on that kind of stage for a young guy is a big, big motivation and inspiration,” Kaka said. “I was hurt but I remember the experience of being there. I was a boy who dreamed of becoming a professional soccer player. It’s always a pleasure when you have an international tournament, see a different country and compete with the big clubs from all over the world. This is such a platform for these young players to show themselves because you will be under pressure, you will have the media there and a lot of people around the world watching you. Maybe even the big clubs will look at you. You start to taste what professional football is.”

This year’s Blue Stars/FIFA Youth Cup features a stellar line-up including the likes of Liverpool, Marseille and defending champions Basel. The tournament has a rich and storied history. It was opened in 1939 by FC Blue Stars, the first club in Switzerland to have a dedicated youth programme. Bobby Charlton, Pep Guardiola and David Beckham are among the players who have graced the competition over the years. A women’s edition was launched in 2018 and runs concurrently with the men’s tournament. Among the teams competing in this year’s women’s event are Arsenal, Juventus and 2022 winners FC Zurich. The finals of the men’s and women’s tournaments will be broadcast live on Fifa+, with highlights from each match also available on FIFA+. platform.

Kaka urged fans to seize the opportunity to watch potential future superstars in action. “It’s a fantastic tournament, with high quality organization and high quality matches,” she said. “When you watch a youth tournament, you want to see good matches, good players, a good environment and a great overall sporting experience. Surely the Blue Stars/Fifa Youth Cup is one of the best. I remember my teammates well, because we grew up together in São Paulo, playing together and having fun. Most of those players are still my friends today. One was even my best man at my wedding, Marcelo Saragosa. These competitions provide a great way to learn and improve, to be better personally and collectively -said the Brazilian ex-Milan champion-. For example, for Brazilian players, it’s one thing to compete here in Brazil, but more often than not, it’s against the same players, the same coaches, and the same [stile di] brazilian football. When you play against international clubs, you see different football players and academies and different tactics. In my opinion, we need even more competitions like this.

There is also a women’s edition of the tournament. “How important is it for the development of women’s football? It’s very important to improve the game. It’s the same as I said for the men’s team, it will be great for the teams to play against different players, tactics and football schools. We need to invest in football and this is the support we have to give them. This opportunity – an international tournament like the Blue Stars/FIFA Youth Cup – will definitely improve their quality even more,” concluded Kakà.