Ferdinand has eyes on 2023 HKFC Citi Soccer Sevens as QPR confirm participation
HONG KONG, 8 May 2023 – Former England striker Les Ferdinand MBE will be paying close attention when the action kicks off at the 2023 HKFC Citi Soccer Sevens later this month as the ex-Newcastle United forward – and current Director of Football at Queens Park Rangers – looks to identify European football’s next emerging talent.
The Hong Kong Football Club-hosted event returns from 26 to 28 May after a three-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic having long ago gained a reputation as a proving ground for the game’s best young players.
Manchester City’s £100 million star Jack Grealish, who featured at the tournament on three occasions for former club Aston Villa, is the latest former participant to enjoy a career at the peak of the professional game.
In the view of figures like Ferdinand, the HKFC Citi Soccer Sevens provides an invaluable opportunity to see the best up-and-coming talent up close.
“People like myself come to these types of tournaments to watch and we know we can’t buy players out of the Premier League,” said Ferdinand, who twice finished as a Premier League runner-up during his time with Newcastle.
“But we can certainly loan, so we might have come to this tournament a few years ago and seen Jack Grealish and gone: He might benefit us for a year. It would be great for him, and it will be good for us as well.
“This is one of those kinds of tournaments. It will benefit the players and it will benefit you as a football club as well. Based on where we are as a football club at the moment, these kinds of tournaments are very important to look at what we can loan.”
So impressed has Ferdinand been with the opportunities presented by the event that QPR have confirmed their participation in the 2023 HKFC Citi Soccer Sevens, with the Loftus Road-based club stepping in to play following Wolverhampton Wanderers’ withdrawal.
QPR will slot into Group D in the Main Event alongside Brighton & Hove Albion, Hong Kong Select and Singapore Cricket Club while Yau Yee League Select Masters have replaced the FPF team in Group B of the Masters Tournament.
“Tournaments like this are an important part of development and I know because I went away when I was 21, I went to Turkey for a year,” says Ferdinand of the benefits of the HKFC Citi Soccer Sevens.
“It was the making of me as a footballer and as a young man. I think sometimes to come away from home and not have the comforts of your home surroundings prepares you for what life’s like as a professional footballer.
“There are times when you’re going to be away from home, in pre-season and this kind of thing, and there are things you have to do while you’re away. These types of tournaments are all part of that learning curve.”
The format of the HKFC Citi Soccer Sevens, where seven-a-side teams play in games split into two seven-minute halves (which increases to 10 minutes for the final), also allows players to showcase aspects of their game that might not be apparent at other competitions.
“You see different skillsets, different mindsets because you know it’s over in a short amount of time,” says Ferdinand.
“OK, you’re not seeing 90 minutes of football, but you can see enough in that time to see where a player is technically, mentally and all the aspects you’re looking for in a player.
“You can see that in a short period of time and you’re also seeing loads of different teams. You can see enough in the attitude and the willingness to get up and back. It’s like when you watch Rugby Sevens, who are the ones who get up and back?
“This is pretty much the same. You can see who has the attitude, the capabilities and mentality to do it.”
Six-time winners Aston Villa join champions Newcastle United and fellow Premier League clubs Brighton & Hove Albion, Leicester City and Fulham as well as Championship side QPR and Scottish Premiership outfit Rangers in participating in the HKFC Citi Soccer Sevens Main Event, which is being held for the first time since 2019.
The Masters Tournament will begin proceedings at Sports Road, with games being played on May 26, before the Main Event kicks off the following day. Matches run throughout until May 28.
Tickets for the event will be available at zicket.co with free entry for all on Friday 26 May and free entry for children under 16 years old all weekend. Single day tickets cost HKD$120 and weekend passes are HKD$200. Don't miss the opportunity to witness some world-class football at the HKFC Citi Soccer Sevens.
Information and Photo source : HKFC Citi Soccer Sevens