Atletico Madrid and Club Brugges join Future Champions tournament line-up in Gauteng

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

  • We had a wonderful football and cultural experience in Gauteng. The tournament and activities were very well organized and we found everyone involved extremely helpful and accommodating. We have all returned home with fantastic memories of our time in South Africa, both on and off the pitch, and have made many new friends as a result of the trip. I hope that we are invited to participate in future tournaments.

    Everton Academy Head Coach
  • The experience both on and off the field for our players during the Future Champions tournament in Gauteng was life-enriching for all those who participated. We were privileged enough to win this edition but what will be bringing us back in future is the cross-cultural education our players receive from spending time with athletes from all over the world. They are human beings before they are football players and enriching them with other cultures is as rewarding as the experience they receive on the field.

    Club Tijuana Director of Football
  • After twenty years of experiencing tournaments around the globe, Future Champions is hands down the best organized, well run International Tournament we have ever participated in. Bringing teams from dozens of different countries provided our boys exposure to cultural diversity they only read about in textbooks. It’s amazing how sport can be the cultural link that provides the opportunity to interact with each other and discover that our global community is a bit smaller than they realized. We had a football and cultural experience that will be cherished for the rest of our lives.

    Director of USYSA Select
  • For us to compete in Future Champions is much more than playing a series of matches. It is an opportunity to compete and contrast our level against the best teams from around the world and the possibility of living in another culture and environment for an unforgettable week, learning about the history of the fight for human rights.

    Director of Aspire Academy
  • The addition of a girls’ competition this year is a natural expansion for what has become a hugely popular event. Over and above the football, the players are also exposed to life-skills courses and HIV/AIDS awareness that could end up saving their lives in the future. We have had an amazing partnership with the Gauteng Province over the last decade and we thank each and every stakeholder for making the Future Champions Gauteng campaign such a huge success

    Tournament director