THE KwaZulu-Natal Government, eThekwini Municipality, Hoy Park Management Ltd in partnership with South African Football Association (SAFA) today, announced a new football initiative that will showcase some of the world’s best and dynamic footballers at a media briefing held at Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban.
The inaugural tournament will be held in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal from July 31-August 9, and staged at the Sugar Ray Xulu, Claremont, Princess Magogo, KwaMashu, King Zwelithini, Umlazi and the Moses Mabhida stadiums.
The Durban Under 19’s International Football Tournament, a first for South African football, will feature four of Europe’s top club sides and two best known South American club sides in a competitive setting of sixteen (16) matches over eight (8) double header match nights.
Joining the South African Football Association’s Under 19s National team and the KZN Hoy Park Academy XI (the trialist team) will be from the English Premier League, Everton Football Club, the Italian Serie A, Associazione Sportiva Roma, the Portuguese Primeira Liga, Sporting Lisboa e Benfica, the Dutch Eredivisie, Feyenoord, the Argentinean Primera Division, Club Atletico Boca Juniors and the Brazilian Serie A, Santos Futebol Clube.
Tournament organiser, Carlos Catalino, said “We are delighted to be able to announce today such a prestigious and glamorous line up of international invitees. These clubs not only represent the top of their respective leagues, but in players such as Eusebio, Pele, Totti, Cruyff, Rooney and Maradona show they have an illustrious history which their Under 19s players will be emulating here in Durban.”
Nhlanhla Ngidi, Director General of KwaZulu-Natal said the Provincial Government is excited to be part of a pioneering project that seeks to address the challenges currently experienced by our National Teams.
“When we took the decision to support the hosting of this tournament last year, it was tied to the development of the Hoy Park Academy, whose function will be to develop ‘complete’ football players. It is a critical mandate for Government to create opportunities for our young players to be gainfully employed,” said Ngidi.
EThekwini Municipality Mayor James Nxumalo said the hosting of the tournament is in line with plan 6.6 of the Municipality’s Integrated Development Plan, which sport and culture are amongst some of the biggest economic drivers.
“The City of Durban is known for successfully hosting major events and this tournament won’t be an exception. We are the base of Hoy Park Academy and when we took a decision to fund the project we did so with an aim of turning eThekwini into a ‘Mecca’ of football,” said Nxumalo.
SAFA President, Dr Danny Jordaan said: “This is a very important tournament as the Under 19s are the future of all senior national teams. We are in the process of building a new Bafana Bafana and it is from the Under 19 where we identify new talent and our future stars.”
KZN Hoy Park Academy XI, Paulo Cardoso, said “We have discovered amazing raw football talent whom I refer to as rough diamonds, they will be refined and their skills honed preparing them for national and international standards of football.”
The Organisers also announced the involvement of SMG as Official Car Partner of the Tournament. Managing Director of the SMG Group, Sean McCarthy, voiced his enthusiasm
for the project “SMG is very proud to support this worthy initiative to develop U19 soccer in KwaZulu-Natal, which offers an opportunity for talented youngsters to realise their dreams of becoming future soccer stars and ambassadors of our country when they represent the National Team”.