“Play with a smile on your face” – that’s the message from former Liverpool and England footballer Stephen Warnock ahead of this weekend’s 7 Elite Academy International Tournament.
A record 200 teams will gather in Saint George and Washington City on Thursday, Friday and Saturday for one of the biggest youth soccer events in the region.
Warnock, who spent 16 years playing in the top flight of English football and was a member of England’s 2010 World Cup squad, is a global ambassador for 7 Elite Academy.
He will cast an eye over proceedings from the UK, with players in the 2002 to 2012 brackets, alongside a Pre-Academy Jamboree for the 2013 to 2016 age groups.
In an exclusive video message to the tournament, he said: “My advice is to enjoy the tournament, play with a smile on your face and relax. That’s the ideal way to get the best out of yourself.
“Make sure you do the right things like fuel properly, drink the right things and eat the right foods. You need plenty of energy for these tournaments.
“I am really looking forward to hearing the reports from coaches about the how the tournament went.
“I just want to say good luck to everyone involved. Play with pride, play with fun and most of all enjoy yourselves.”
This year’s 7 Elite Academy International Tournament will include professional referees from across the United States and penalty shoot-outs at the end of all games.
Warnock travelled to similar tournaments in his youth, before making his senior debut for Liverpool in the Champions League in 2004.
He added: “Looking back, you’ll see these tournaments are the best times of your career. It certainly was for me.
“I travelled to Clearwater in Florida and played in a tournament for my local junior team. It was one of my highlights and I’ve been fortunate enough to represent my country at a World Cup.
“Why? Because you play with your mates. You get to score goals with them, win games with them and also suffer defeats with them.”