Gothia Cup is the world’s largest international youth football tournament. Each year, around 1600 teams from 80 nations take part and they play 4500 games on 110 fields. Divya Sharma spoke to founder of Gothia Cup, Dennis Andersson and his son Niklas Andersson, marketing director and competition general.
Can you tell us about the history of the cup?
Gothia Cup began on a gravel field in 1975. There were 275 teams from around 5 countries. In 1981, the cup was on the edge of bankruptcy because of more investment and less sponsorship. In the late 1980s its popularity grew among local people and across the world. McDonald’s was the main sponsor and invested around 75,000 Swedish krowns. In 1988, eight players who played from Gothia went to the 1994 World Cup football.
What is this year’s scenario?
We are in our 43rd edition of the cup. The response has been tremendous. There were over 50,000 spectators this year, 1755 teams and 75 nations. This is 103 teams more than last year itself. SKF is our main sponsor.
Gothia Cup began on a gravel field in 1975. There were 275 teams from around 5 countries. (Photo: Divya Sharma)
Which countries always excel at the Gothia Cup?
It depends. Women’s teams from Norway, Sweden, US and Germany usually walk away with the trophies. Men’s teams from Ghana, South America and Brazil do well. The players are aged between between 11 and 18 years.
How do you foresee Gotha Cup’s future?
We have got good government support, large spaces, perfect youth-friendly cities, infrastructure, security, fields, sleeping facilities and transportation. We are doing stuff all over the world, some of them with the help of Turkish Airlines. In 1998, we started a football school in Africa in Burkina Faso and started gymnastics training for girls. The schools also provided food for children.
Indian teams have been coming since 2004, how have they been performing?
We have seen the development of skills and commitment from Indian kids. I think sports like football should become a part of their curriculum and we need to educate the trainers and coaches. I remember an Indian team won once around 2005 and beat Brazil.
Carlton D Souza, head coach St Pius X School, Mumbai, Saikrishna Hatangadi and Marcellus John Aleckal, both co-coordinators in Mumbai informed Sharma that this year there were 14 teams from India comprising 250 players. It was an open tournament for Indians (pay and park). Indians require more support from the embassy of Sweden in India and more aid for the underprivileged children. This year India lost narrowly in the matches. The main difference here is that India sends schoolchildren while others have clubs dedicated to the sport.