March 4 – The team line-up for one of the most prestigious U17 club tournaments in the world is almost complete with the addition of Atletico Madrid and Club Brugge to the 2016 Future Champions Gauteng International Tournament that takes place March 14-21.
The entry of the Spanish and Belgian club sides is the first time there has been participation from those countries, though Spain’s La Liga are the South African tournament sponsors this year.
Four previous winners of the tournament have confirmed their entry: Brazilian side Clube Atletico Mineiro, defending champions Torino from Italy, Shandong Luneng from China and Club Tijuana of Mexico.
They will be joined by two more international entrants to be announced at a later stage. There will also be four South African qualifiers from the Gauteng Cup that will be played on March 6.
The tournament is broadcast on South Africa’s Supersport channel.
The Future Champions project has been one of the most enduring of the legacy initiatives from the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. Started during the build up to the 2010 World Cup the project objective “is aimed at youth focusing on high performance, skills development, skills transfer and seeks to contribute to the elevation of the standard of football within the countries that it operates, nurturing the talent of Future Champions.”
The Future Champions International Tournament provides Gauteng the opportunity of showcasing their capacity to stage and host major international events.
While the project’s showcase event is the international tournament, it is just one of the ‘five pillars’ underpinning the initiative. The other four are:
· Future Players – a province-wide talent identification programme aimed at youngsters aged 13-16.
· Schools Cup – A province-wide competition to identify the best schools teams.
· Gauteng Cup – A competition that includes the best school sides, PSL club academies and teams from the province’s SAFA structures.
· Future Coaches – Providing opportunity to up-skill grassroots coaches so that they can take that knowledge back to their communities and produce the best young talent of tomorrow.
International Tournament Previous Winners:
· 2009 winners – Boca Juniors – Argentina
· 2010 winners – Shandong Luneng – China
· 2011 winners – Atletico Mineiro – Brazil
· 2012 winners – Atletico Mineiro – Brazil
· 2013 winners – Club Tijuana – Mexico
· 2014 winners – Atletico Mineiro – Brazil
· 2015 winners – Torino – Italy