Brazil’s Clube Atletico Mineiro and Portugal’s Sporting Lisbon join the 2013 Future Champions Gauteng International Tournament

Johannesburg, Wednesday, 13 March 2013 – Two-time winners Clube Atletico Mineiro from Brazil will again be the team to beat at the 2013 Future Champions Gauteng tournament that will be played at the Nike Football Training Centre from 25 – 30 March 2013.

The club from Belo-Horizonte has won the last two installments of the competition and have proven themselves to be among the best Under-17 sides in the world. They have also won the last two Future Champions competitions in their home city.

They defeated compatriots Cruzeiro FC 5-3 and 6-5 on penalties in the 2010 and 2011 Future Champions Belo Horizonte finals respectively, and then beat Russian side Rubin Kazan 3-0 in the decider in Gauteng in 2011.

They returned to Gauteng to defend their title in 2012 and did so successfully, beating Uruguayan side Nacional 2-1 in the decider. The club will celebrate its 105th birthday on March 25, the day the 2013 Future Champions Gauteng tournament gets under way.

The senior side is one of the more well-known out of Brazil, though their only ever National League title came all the way back in 1971. They finished second in the league in 2012.

They are coached by former Brazil international Cuca, and count among their current stars Brazilian legend Ronaldinho, and international defenders Réver, Leonardo Silva and Marcos Rocha, as well as goalkeeper Victor.

The Under-17 side has shown incredible attacking skill and have been a joy to watch, bringing with them typical South American flair.

“We are honoured to be invited back to the Future Champions Gauteng tournament having enjoyed our two previous stays in South Africa. The boys have really enjoyed their time in Gauteng and have found it most beneficial on and off the pitch. The standard of the tournament is excellent and it is a great learning experience for our players,†says Andre Figueiredo, Clube Atletico Mineiro.

Joining Atletico Mineiro at this year’s competition will be Portuguese giants Sporting Lisbon.
The club can count many greats amongst their former players, not least current global superstar Cristiano Ronaldo, who came through the youth ranks at the club before joining Manchester United.

Being one of biggest clubs in Portugal, they have a steady stream of talent come through their system and it is likely that we will see a number of future Portuguese internationals when they arrive for the Future Champions Gauteng tournament.

They are the third most successful side in the country behind city rivals Benfica and FC Porto, and the current crop of players are coached by the veteran Jesualdo Ferreira.

“We are delighted to have been invited to take part in the 2013 Future Champions Gauteng tournament for the first time and look forward to sharing our talent with the South African public and visiting teams from all over the world. We see youth system as a cornerstone for the success of any side and this tournament will be a great experience for our players in their development,†says Pedro Luz, Sporting Lisbon.

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.

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 29and Saturday, March 30.

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 came 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