Time for Future Champs Tournament
The 2011 Future Champions Gauteng will be held from March 28 to April 2 and will feature some of the best Under-17 sides in the world in one festival of football.
Now in its third year, the Future Champions Gauteng, organised by Global Sports International on behalf of the Gauteng Department of Sport, Arts, Culture and Recreation, has proven a massive success with some scintillating football featuring the best of South Africa against top sides from around the world.
The tournament will be played at the Nike Football Training Centre in Soweto, while the quarter-finals and semi-finals will be held at the Moruleng Stadium in Rustenburg on April 1, with the action to begin at 10h00 each day.
March 31 is nominated as a rest day for the teams, who will visit the world-famous Sun City resort and Pilanesberg Game Park. The teams will be hosted throughout this exciting programme by Bakgatla-Ba-Kgafela.
The matches at the Moruleng Stadium will afford the teams the opportunity to enjoy more of what Mzansi has to offer in an environment very different to that of Soweto. It will also give the people of Moruleng the chance to see some world-class future talent in action.
The final of the Future Champions Gauteng will be played at the Nike Football Training Centre in Soweto on April 2 with a kick-off time of 17h00.
There will be 12 sides competing in this year’s event, four South African sides in the form of Orlando Pirates, Jomo Cosmos, Mamelodi Sundowns and Bidvest Wits, to take on eight international entrants.
The international sides are PSV Eindhoven (Netherlands), CF Pachuca (Mexico), CD Universidad Catolica (Chile), Clube Atletico Mineiro (Brazil), FC Rubin Kazan (Russia), K-Stars (Zambia), Apapa Golden Stars (Nigeria) and Gaborone Young Zebras (Botswana).
The 12 teams will be split into four first round groups of three teams, with one of the South African sides in each of those pools, along with two international entrants. The teams play each other in a round-robin format, with the top sides in each pool advancing to the semifinals. The remaining eight sides play-off to determine positions five to 12.
The last Future Champions Gauteng competition was held in January 2010 and was won by Chinese side Shandong Luneng, who beat French outfit Paris Saint-Germain in the final. The inaugural event in 2009 was won by Argentinean club Boca Juniors.
“It is a privilege for us to have such a high-calibre field for the 2011 Future Champions Gauteng. The successes of the past two tournaments have laid an excellent platform for this global event and we are sure that the 2011 tournament will surpass those for skill and excitement. I wish all 12 competing teams the very best of luck and trust that Fair Play will prevail,” said Lebogang Maile, MEC for the Gauteng Department of Sport, Arts, Culture and Recreation.
Tournament Director, Ray Whelan said: “The confirmed teams for this year’s edition of the Future Champions Gauteng will make for an excellent competition. We have global representation and are most excited to be including a team from Russia in this year’s Tournament, particularly after the announcement of their hosting the 2018 FIFA World Cup. It is also fitting that seven African teams have been confirmed offering them an opportunity to play and compete with the best.”
Along with the Future Champions Gauteng tournament, there is also the Talent Search programme which intends to identify three of the most exciting young players in the province. After nine stops on the roadshow across the Gauteng province, the three winners will be determined at the final on April 2, after which they will get a taste of some overseas coaching on an international trip.
The Talent Search, now in its third year, saw Soweto’s Refiloe Jane win in 2009, and she, along with runners-up, Tshwane’s Frans Kagiso Kekana and Daveyton’s Sibusiso Molefe, headed off for a dream trip to Manchester, England, organised by international sports firm Global Sports International, where they trained with some of the best young players in the Under-17 age-group from around the world.
In 2010, the Talent Search produced winners in young rising stars Rorisang Tlhabane, Andile Nqabeni and Sboniso Mncwabe, who went to Belo Horizonte in Brazil for a week of training at the youth academies of top Brazilian clubs Cruzeiro and Atletico Mineiro in December. The 2010 Coach the Coaches winner was Sphiwe Tsotesti, who also headed to South America to learn from the top academies there.
Furthermore, Coach the Coaches seminars and practical sessions will be held throughout the Tournament. The Coaches, Technical and Medical staff of the international teams will pass on their expertise and experience to invited local coaches from the Gauteng region in a concerted effort to further empower them as they strive to improve rising football talent in the Province.