Sunderland Coach rounds-up Future Champions Cup

A young Sunderland side bridged the age gap with aplomb in a memorable Future Champions Cup campaign in South Africa, according to Academy head of coaching Elliott Dickman.

First-year scholar Ryan Ellison was the oldest player on the trip to take part in the U17 tournament in Johannesburg, with a significant portion of the travelling squad made up of 15 and 14-year-olds.

Some faced off against players up to three years their senior as the youngsters finished seventh overall in a field of 16 teams.

“We were really pleased with the lads’ performances in what were some tough games,” Dickman said.

“We had a relatively young squad in comparison to other sides, but in terms of philosophy the lads knew their jobs and what was expected, and they stuck to that.

“I think the performances were very impressive.

“From a football perspective, on the technical and tactical side we did really well, and I wouldn’t like to single anyone out because everyone contributed, no matter how much they played during the tournament.”

Dickman added: “The players were very receptive to the ideas the staff threw at them and really bonded as a group.

“The players generally play together every week but the trip was icing on the cake in terms of the group. We were delighted with them.

“They took a lot of responsibility for such young lads – it was a once in a lifetime experience and we’re pleased to have been able to play a part in it.”

  • 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