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Barcelona, Juventus and Lazio among teams competing in Tony Bezzina U-12 Memorial

The Hibernians Football Academy will be hosting a high-level U-12 international tournament at the Tony Bezzina Stadium next weekend with the participation of 12 teams, including the elite academies of Barcelona, Juventus and Lazio.

After months of preparations, all is set for the first edition of the Tony Bezzina Memorial Tournament with around 180 children coming together to take part in what promises to be a celebration of youth football at the highest level.

The event is also a fitting tribute to Tony Bezzina, the iconic president of Hibernians FC who passed away three years ago after leading the Maltese Premier League club for over four decades.

Ranier Bezzina, the president of Hibernians FC, said: “The Tony Bezzina Memorial Tournament is a fitting tribute to my father’s memory, a link between our club’s glorious past, the present and the future represented by the young players participating in this international three-day event at our stadium.”

Teams from across Europe will feature in the Tony Bezzina Memorial Tournament as hosts Hibernians will be joined by fellow Maltese sides Melita, Pietà Hotspurs and St Andrew’s, Serbia’s Partizan Belgrade, Spain’s Barcelona, Hammarby from Sweden, Messina and Virtus Francavilla, who will be flying the Italian flag along with Juventus and Lazio, and Minaj FC, from Ukraine.

The participants have been divided into three groups with the first matches, including Juventus-Hibernians, kicking off on Friday at 4.20pm, while the final matches are scheduled for Sunday followed immediately by the closing ceremony in the afternoon.

Two games will be played simultaneously throughout the three-day tournament at the Tony Bezzina Stadium.

Andrei Agius, the Director of the Hibernians Football Academy who also heads the organising team, believes that international tournaments benefit young players.

“International experience is crucial for different reasons,” Agius said.

“Such tournaments help the children to evolve as human beings, become more mature and independent, and gradually learn not to over-rely on their parents.

“From a technical perspective, the level of the game overseas definitely pushes the kids to raise the bar, and only by exposing our young talents to such realities can we give them a better future.”

The first edition of the Tony Bezzina Memorial Tournament is supported by VisitMalta, the Paola Local Council and SportMalta. Other partners include Bezzina Group, Player and Events, and ACM.

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