Black Cats to take on Clever Boys

It has been announced today that Sunderland AFC‘s U17 team will take on South African football club partners, Bidvest Wits U17’s, in the group stage of the Future Champions Gauteng Cup in Soweto.

This will be the second year running that the young Black Cats have competed in the prestigious tournament, which is highly regarded as one of the most competitive youth tournaments in world football.

Competing against Sunderland AFC and Bidvest Wits in the group stages will be Tuks FC from South Africa.

SAFC and Bidvest Wits have enjoyed a fruitful relationship since agreeing to a football partnership in 2013, with SAFC’s Head of International Football Development, Graham Robinson, working with the Clever Boys’ coaches on a regular basis, sharing coaching and business expertise.

Graham said: “We work very closely with Bidvest Wits for the benefit of both clubs and often share ideas, so it will be an exciting encounter when the two youth teams come up against each other at the tournament.

“The boys at Wits are a very forward thinking team, they are quick and physically very good, similar to Sunderland, so I’m sure it will be a great spectacle for viewers.

“The tournament is very beneficial as the team are competing against different clubs from across Africa and the globe, so they’ll be coming up against different styles, techniques and even languages.

“It is also being filmed so there are pressures with that, there is pre-match build up and post-match interviews, so the tournament is very beneficial as it prepares them well for the future and the demands of a professional footballer.”

Speaking about the experience of last year’s tournament, Graham added: “A lot of the players are going there a year wiser, last year they did very well but certain games over roared them.

“They were playing under different conditions, they had to deal with the heat and lively crowds, so the atmosphere was very different, and this year won’t be as much of a shock to the system.”

Sunderland AFC will kick-off their campaign on Monday 23 March against Group B side Orlando Pirates.

Elliott Dickman’s side will then take on Tuks FC and Bidvest Wits, with the top side in each group progressing to the semi-final stage and the remaining teams entering a play-off round to determine places five to 12.

  • 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