Sunderland AFC’s U16 team, who have been in South Africa this week, took a welcome break from the Future Champions Cup to take in some of the history and culture of the Rainbow Nation.

The young Black Cats, who confirmed their place as runners up to Mamelodi Sundown in group D with a 1-1 draw against American side USYSA Select, visited some of South Africa’s most famous tourist attractions as part of Cultural Day.

The U16 team ,who were accompanied by academy coaches and SAFC’s Head of International Football Development, Graham Robinson, started their day with a trip to Vilakaze Street, once the home to Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu.

Later in the day the group visited Soccer City, venue for the 2010 FIFA World Cup final. Lunch followed at Maropeng, where the group took in some fantastic African scenery and learned some of the country’s rich history.

After lunch the group visited the Lion Park in Randburg, where they came face to face with the king of the jungle and saw a number of other native animals.

The day finished with a trip to the Lakes Hotel in Benoni for a Gala Dinner, here the boys performed the ‘Cha Cha Slide’ routine as part of a fun competition set up by organisers at the Future Champions Cup.

Sunderland AFC have been in South Africa this past week participating in the Future Champions Cup and delivering community projects as part of its many partnerships in the country.

For more information about Sunderland AFC and its work in Africa please visit

  • 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