Botswana’s Young Zebras and Nigeria’s Bridge FC have joined the 2013 Future Champions Gauteng International Tournament

Johannesburg, Monday, 18 March 2013 – Botswana side Young Zebras will return for the third time to the Future Champions Gauteng tournament this year having been popular and successful participants in the past.

The team from Gaborone finished eighth in their first campaign in 2011, with Mathews Moruti a star for them as he finished among the leading scorers. He has gone on to be a start for the Botswana Under-20 side and has a bright future in the game.

The team repeated that eighth place finish in 2012, another fine showing from the side in a campaign in which they played to a 1-1 draw with Dutch giants PSV Eindhoven in their opening game.

“We are honoured to have been invited back to the Future Champions Gauteng tournament in 2013 and are relishing the opportunity to play against some of the world’s best junior sides. We are very proud of our achievements in this tournament in the past two years and hope to grow that success in 2013. We will come to the tournament with a positive attitude and a spirit of fair play that embodies what we ads a team are all about,†says Mr Sonnyboy Sethibe, Botswana Football Association.

Another side from the African continent to be competing in the 2013 Future Champions Gauteng tournament is Bridge FC from Nigeria.
Nigerian football is on a high after the country’s success in winning the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations tournament in South Africa earlier this year, so it is only fitting that a team from that country should be represented at the Future Champions Gauteng.
Bridge FC is more famously known by their previous name, Julius Berger, a team from Lagos that was formed in the 1970s.
They have won the Nigeria league twice, the last time in 2000, and were finalists on two occasions also in the old African Cup Winners’ Cup.
Some of their more famous former players are Nigerian internationals Yakubu Aiyegbeni, Emmanuel Amuneke, Sunday Oliseh, Taribo West, Rashidi Yekini and Samson Siasia.
The West African nation has an excellent reputation for producing talented young footballers and Bridge FC will bring with them players who are destined for the very top of the game.
“We are proud and excited to send our boys from Bridge FC to this year’s Future Champions Tournament in Gauteng. This wonderful and well thought out concept fits perfectly into our vision for youth development in Lagos State which started with our Under 13 Eko Football Future Stars and has now grown to include Under 17 Eko Football Future Champions.

“This Tournament will not only give our boys a chance to test their skills against other international youth players in their age group but will also enable them make friends from across the world and learn important life skills along the way†says Mr Seyi Akinwumi, Chairman of Lagos State Football Association.

Now in its fifth year, the Future Champions Gauteng tournament, hosted by Gauteng Provincial Government has become a popular feature on the junior international football calendar and is regarded as one of the most prestigious Under-17 competitions on the junior football calendar.

The Future Champions Gauteng will begin with a group stage, with each of the 12 participating teams divided into four groups of three. Each team will play every other within the group, plus one crossover game with a team from another group.

The group stage matches will take place from Monday, March 25 to Wednesday, March 27, with one game each day. The play-offs and placing games are scheduled for Friday, March 29 and Saturday, March 30.

There were 84 goals scored in 30 matches at the 2012 Gauteng Future Champions, with Marcos Labandeira from Uruguay’s Nacional and Siyanda Ngcobo from Orlando Pirates the top scorers with six goals each.

Atletico Mineiro from Brazil finished as winners for the second year running, followed by Nacional and Zambia’s K-Stars.

The field of 12 teams for this year’s event will consist of eight international sides and the four qualified teams from South Africa, who will come out of the 2013 Gauteng Cup. They are SuperSport United, University of Pretoria, Johannesburg Secondary School and SAFA Sedibeng.

  • 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