Kuban Spring-2017 in Sochi
During upcoming two years the capital of the Winter Olympics-2014 will turn into a true football city. Sochi hosts the FIFA Confederations Cup 2017 and the 2018 FIFA World Cup matches. Besides, the city will offer a number of training sites for the tournaments, among which the Sputnik-Sport national football teams development center. Since 2010 the sport complex is the permanent venue of the Kuban Spring tournament. And this time again all the matches will be staged on the football pitches of the Sputnik-Sport.
This year the title of the tournament which has already become the indispensable part of the Russian women’s football brand image, will be challenged by eight selection teams (players born in 1998-2000) from Europe and Asia. Russia will be represented by two teams – the Russian women’s U19 national team and the selection of the Krasnodar region which will be represented mostly by FC Kubanochka (Krasnodar) players. After a time-out Kazakhstan, Belarus and Azerbaijan are back to the tournament - their previous appearances were in 2011, 2012 and 2014 accordingly. Romania will take part in the Kuban Spring for the sixth year running. This time Slovenia will be the only debutant for whom the Kuban Spring is a very important stage of the preparation to the elite round of the UEFA European Women’s U19 Championship 2017 the same as for Russia. The last participant is the only representative of the Asian Football Confederation – Iran.
Ahead to the tournament the group stage draw was held. Under the drawing lots the teams were divided into two groups. Group A includes Iran, the Krasnodar region, Kazakhstan and Slovenia. Group B includes Russia, Azerbaijan, Romania and Belarus. The tournament regulations are the same as last year. At the group stage the teams play under the round robin format. Two best teams from each group proceed to the semi-finals. Other teams will play for the 5th-8th places.
It shall be noted that the Kuban Spring tournament was launched in 2004 when the first edition of the tournament was staged in the Poltavskaya stannitsa, the Krasnodar region. Four women’s clubs from Russia and Ukraine as well as Russia Women’s U19 took part in that tournament. Since that time the competition has become annual and in further editions it was attended not only by the Russian clubs but also by the clubs from Kazakhstan and Belarus. But during the first four editions the title was claimed by the Russian clubs exclusively – CSK VVS (Samara), WFC Spartak (Moscow), WFC Nadezhda (Noginsk) and WFC Ryazan-VDV (Ryazan).
In 2008 the Kuban Spring tournament started its new history. It turned into the international festival of women’s U19 teams and got FIFA support. In the first edition of the renewed competition the national teams from Russia, Ukraine, Poland and the USA along with the Russian women’s clubs took part. But since the edition 2009 the tournament includes only the selection teams from different continents. During this time most gold medals were won by Asia: China and Korea DPR got two titles each, Japan celebrated the victory at the tournament too. In 2013 the USA (Region-1) won the competition, in 2014 and 2015 Russia was the best after beating Ukraine and Slovakia in the finals accordingly.