With a famous name to support their cause, Manchester Soccer Academy (MSA), headed by former Sri Lanka player Augustine George, is planning an upscale Football tournament, featuring 20 teams. 

The participants include academies from Maldives, India and Pakistan, in addition to local National and International schools for the Under-15 age category. 

The tournament will take place on March 24, 25 at the Racecourse ground in Colombo, where MSA President George feels it is the ideal place in the country to give the youngsters the international exposure. 

“Growing up with hardship and coming up to represent Sri Lanka, is the pinnacle of any local Footballer’s career. As an individual, I had to go through many bad patches. Eventually, I became a member of a winning Sri Lanka outfit, which won the 1995 SAF Championship. Since then, Sri Lanka has been struggling to create a good combination and, as a former player, I thought forming an academy with good facilities would be an ideal initiative. That’s how MSA was born and this tournament is to celebrate our first anniversary,” an emotional George told reporters. 

Despite all plans to stage a high-profile 2-day competition, the organisers failed to attract a potential sponsor to support their project. 

The tournament will be conducted under 5 Groups with 4 teams in each, and will be played as 9-a-side tournament. 

Though MSA failed to find a sponsor, it has managed to gain the support of the Football Federation of Sri Lanka and some well-wishers. 

“We have named the competition ‘Manchester International Independence Cup 2018’, also to mark the 70th independence day celebration of our country. The MSA has entered an agreement with the Hulamale Sports School of the Maldives, who have been working in partnership with us in the recent months. Through this tournament we intend to strengthen our relationship with the neighbouring countries, which in turn would give the talented youngsters of MSA the opportunity to train abroad. In addition, we will award trophies, medals and certificates, but no cash rewards will be on offer, as it is played by juniors. Whatever the outcome, we intend conducting one of the best tournaments in recent times,” said Director of International Affairs and MSA Advisor Muheed Jeeran. 

The MSA is a grassroots and professional Football development academy based in Colombo, with over 300 youngsters, from ages 6 to 16, trained weekly at the Racecourse grounds. 

Within the past 6 months the MSA has managed to open a branch in Anuradhapura, as part of its extension project. 

The MSA comprises of qualified FIFA Grassroots Instructors and AFA Certified Coaches, with experience at national, professional and school levels.

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