Jason Wilcox confident Manchester City Abu Dhabi Cup will help academy players

Total of 130 teams across five age-groups taking part in the two-day competition at Zayed Sports City

Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates - Jason Wilcox, former professional footballer at the launch of Abu Dhabi Cup organized by Manchester FC at TwoFour 54. Khushnum Bhandari for The National
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Manchester City's academy director Jason Wilcox believes the club's youngsters will benefit from their trip to Abu Dhabi this weekend to go up against teams from the UAE, South Africa, Sri Lanka and Bahrain.

The Premier League side are well represented in the third staging of the Manchester City Abu Dhabi Cup, which is being held at Zayed Sports City on Friday and Saturday, with five age-groups ranging from under 8s to under 16s being contested, as well as girls' teams participating for the first time.

A total of 130 teams will be participating in total across the categories.

Wilcox, who won the Premier League as a player with Blackburn Rovers in 1995, is confident that taking the players out of England and the academy setting for a weekend to compete in an international environment will be a positive experience for their personal growth.

"I think it is important," the 47 year old said on Thursday at a launch event to promote the tournament.

"For the young kids it is really important that they are able to come to different environments, see other cultures and mix with children from different backgrounds and testing themselves outside of what they are used to.

"It is really valuable for us as an academy to travel and build their independence, their resilience.

"To have a long flight, to cope with the heat, I know it is not to warm today but last year they had to cope with the heat, making sure they were drinking lots of fluids, getting in the shade when they had to.

"To see the size of the tournament, to compete in something this size, and this will be a really good experience for them being here."

While Wilcox is hoping that his players will have a successful time in the UAE, dealing with losses and setbacks are not necessarily a bad thing for their development in his opinion.

"You see different attributes in different kids when it is a knockout situation," he said. "Some of them can be tearful when they lose and it is important they get themselves together quickly.

"The chairman (Khaldoon Al Mubarak) was here last year. We lost the final but he was impressed with how the boys were upset, but regrouped and congratulated the opposition team and that is something I and the staff at City encourage."

Aref Al Awani, the general secretary of Abu Dhabi Sports Council, is delighted the event is again being held in the UAE.

“What an achievement it is to have so many talented teams coming to Abu Dhabi – it will benefit everyone involved in sports and football in the emirate,” he said.