La Liga sponsorship spurs Gauteng tourney
JOHANNESBURG , (CAJ News) – THE name Christian Karembeu is synonymous with stardom.
In his heyday, the retired French legend was part of the all-conquering team of the late 1990s to the turn of the century.
One of the most gifted midfielders of his generation, his crowning moment came in 1998 when France won the FIFA World Cup and the Euro two years later.
The legend, who played 53 times for Les Blues, prominently spent three years playing for Real Madrid in La Liga, the Spanish Premiership, where he secured two Champions League titles.
Now 45, Karembeu is the La Liga Ambassador and is on the sidelines during the Future Champions Gauteng International Tournament ongoing at the Nike Football Training Centre in Pimville, Soweto.
He is a guest of tournament supporters, the LaLiga, and will run his eye over some of the best young talent in the world in the Under-17 age-group.
Karembeu will give his expert opinion to the youngsters involved in the Future Champions Gauteng and will also be an important part of the Closing Ceremony, giving the new La Liga Fair Play Award. The accolade will be given to the team that excels beyond football and borders through its sportsmanship spirit.
Karembeu’s presence and La Liga’s endorsement of the competition has catapulted the Future Champions Gauteng into one of the world’s most prominent junior football tournaments.
Antonio Barradas, Head of LaLiga in Africa, says the support of LaLiga to the Future Champions is one of the latest examples of their internationalisation strategy and commitment to the development of football all over the world.
He expresses satisfaction to be involved with this programme.
“We’re here in South Africa to stay,” Barradas says.
“We’re just getting started and want to promote grassroots football as an educational tool,” the La Liga official adds.
“We are very delighted to be a part of this initiative this year. Our focus is to get things done not only in South Africa but in the whole continent to assist the development of football and increase our engagement with our fans in Africa.
“This beautiful continent offers a large variety of opportunities so we hope that we can strengthen the ties between Spain and Africa.”
Tournament Director, Ray Whelan, regards the Spanish La Liga as one of the most prestigious leagues in the world.
“They (La Liga) have a vision of spreading their football message across the globe. Television is one medium for that, but they are also looking at a more grassroots means of promoting their brand and have chosen to partner with the Future Champions Gauteng for this year and hopefully beyond,” says Whelan.
La Liga has facilitated the visit of Atletico Madrid to the ongoing tournament and supported the Future Players Talent Identification programme, Schools Cup and Gauteng Cup.
The Future Champions Gauteng, which ends on Saturday, features four previous winners among the 12-team field – Clube Atletico Mineiro (Brazil), defending champions Torino (Italy), Shandong Luneng (China) and Club Tijuana of Mexico.
Also from outside of South Africa are top Belgian side Club Brugge and Mozambican club Ferroviario Maputo.
There are five local entrants in the field – Orlando Pirates, Kaizer Chiefs, Mamelodi Sundowns, Bidvest Wits and Black Aces.
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