The 2019 Future Champions Gauteng Schools Cup will be the biggest yet, with the competition expanded to include girls' teams when it is played at the Isak Steyl Stadium at the Vaal University of Technology on 16 and 17 February.
For the first time in the decade-long history of the Schools Cup, girls will be given the opportunity to showcase their talent as the country basks in the historic qualification of Banyana Banyana for the 2019 FIFA World Cup.
Refiloe Jane, who won the Future Champions Talent Search in 2009 and is now one of the star names for Banyana with an overseas contract at Australian side Canberra United, will be a role model for those who take part in the competition.
The Schools Cup is also the start of the journey towards the Future Champions Gauteng International Tournament that sees some of the top Under-17 sides in the world head to Johannesburg from 25to 30 March 2019.
The top four sides in the Schools Cup advance to the Future Champions Gauteng Cup (16-17 March), where they will be joined by the leading academy teams in the Province, all seeking to book a place in the international competition.
The Schools Cup, organised by Global Sports International in conjunction with the Gauteng Department of Sport, Arts, Culture and Recreation, the Gauteng Department of Education and SAFA Gauteng, sees the 16 teams in the boys' and girls' competitions split into four pools each containing four sides.
It will be a chance for the best young talent in the Province to bring success and prestige to their schools, perhaps also setting them on a path to a professional career in the sport.
We are extremely excited to have an expanded Future Champions Gauteng Schools Cup this year that includes girls' teams for the first time. The Gauteng Province is proud of our passion for providing equal opportunities to our young sportsmen and women, and the recent success of Banyana Banyana has demonstrated to the world the potential our girls have on the soccer pitch. We look forward to a bigger and better Schools Cup tournament, said the Gauteng Department of Sport, Arts, Culture and Recreation's MEC, Ms Faith Mazibuko.
The Gauteng Department of Education is once again thrilled to lend our support to the Future Champions Gauteng Schools Cup, a tournament that has become a vitally important event on our calendar. Educating youngsters is much more than classrooms and textbooks; on the sports field they learn how to work as a team, to succeed together, and that it is difficult to achieve anything without hard work. The Schools Cup has always been a superb platform for players to showcase their skill and we look forward to seeing who emerges in 2019, said the Gauteng Department of Education's MEC, Mr Panyaza Lesufi.
President of SAFA Gauteng, Mr Willie Mooka, says the tournament is an important stepping stone for young players in the Province.
Because we have players from schools teams, academies and international clubs all mixed into one campaign it gives them great exposure to different styles, tactics and levels of ability. As SAFA Gauteng we know we have some tremendous talent in the Province but they will not reach their potential unless they are able to perform in tournaments such as the Future Champions Gauteng, where they can test their ability against their peers, said Mr Mooka.
Tournament director Ray Whelan from Global Sports International adds they are expecting big things from the 2019 Schools Cup.
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, said Mr Whelan.
Source: South Africa Football Association