The Future Champions Gauteng International Tournament adds Spartak FC, Club Tijuana and the All India Football Federation to the line-up

Johannesburg, Wednesday, 27th February 2019 – The 2019 Future Champions Gauteng International Tournament pits top Under-17 sides from around the globe with the best of the Gauteng Province in a heady mix of styles over six days from 25th to 30th March.

The tournament will once again be staged at the Nike Football Training Centre in Pimville, Soweto, and will be an opportunity for football and friendship as teams from vastly different cultures get to engage on and off the pitch.

Returning for a third year in a row will be Russian side Spartak FC, who finished a credible fourth in 2018 after being edged out on penalties by local side Bidvest Wits in the bronze-medal match.

They will hope to be contenders again after improving from their seventh position finish in the 2017 edition of the tournament.

The Moscow-based side have a history of producing top talent for the Russian league and were also once the home of current Manchester United star Marcos Rojo and the Nigerian Emmanuel Emenike.

They have won a record 22 Soviet/Russian league titles and have also claimed the Russian Cup on 13 occasions.

“This year will be the decisive one for the players of this category: their upcoming performance may influence their future career in professional football,” said Spartak Under-17 coach, Vyatcheslav Vashkevich.

“So it’s great that at the moment when they are completing their preparation in the Academy, the team goes to the Future Champions Tournament.

“I am sure their participation in South Africa will be a new notable step in their sporting and personal development. A possibility not only to play against the strong teams but also to get to know their peers from other parts of the world” concluded Vashkevich.

Club Tijuana from Mexico have been regular visitors to the Future Champions Gauteng International Tournament down the years and will make a fifth appearance at the prestigious event.

They won on their inaugural visit in 2013, beating English side Everton in the final, and have returned in 2014, 2016 and 2017.

The club are reflectively new, having only been founded in 2007, but have made quick strides in the game, winning the Mexican Apertura in 2012.

Their senior squad is littered with players from Argentina, Uruguay, Colombia and the United States, and is coached by Colombian tactician Óscar Pareja.

“No doubt that for the players and the coaching staff, living the experience of a tournament of this magnitude is something that fills us with pride,” said Club Tijuana’s Coach Juan Ramo.

“We want to represent the club and our country in a dignified way and we look forward to the start of the tournament to have a cultural and sporting exchange that leaves us with a great learning” concluded Ramo.

The All India Football Federation (AIFF) will also be sending their Under-17 side to the tournament this year, not the first side from that country to take part in the Future Champions Gauteng International Tournament.

The Football School of India participated in 2017 but battled to make an impact, something the Indian national team will be hoping to improve on this year.

India’s Under-17 side played in the World Cup in 2017 when they hosted the event and will be eager to showcase the rich talent from one of the world’s most populace nations.

“The AIFF believes in providing competitive match timing to all our age-group teams which will help them, and the management, to access on the areas to be worked upon,” said Abhishek Yadav, Director of National Teams at AIFF.

“The experience of playing in the FCG International Tournament will aid immensely in the overall development of a future generation of Indian footballers, who we believe have a great future ahead.

“The more you play, the more you learn. More importantly, the more you play against different styles, the more mature you become. Football development can never happen if we concentrate our boys to a select region.

“It’s important for the boys to understand, and feel how football is played over the world, and adapt to different styles and challenges” concluded Yadav.

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  • 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