For the second year in a row we were fortunate to have the amazing opportunity to travel to Sweden with a U18 soccer team and take part in Gothia Cup. Gothia Cup is the world’s largest and most international youth football tournament. Each year, around 1600 excited teams from 80 nations take part, playing 4500 games on 110 fields.
On the 12th of July, after a long flight from Cape Town, the excited but tired team finally arrived at Landvetter airport. As soon as they stepped on Swedish ground they received a warm welcome by eager supporters.
The first stop in Sweden for the boys was Dalsjöfors, where they had time to sink in that they just arrived in another country. They practiced, had a barbeque and enjoyed the Swedish nature.
On the next day they headed for Gothenburg and Ascheberg, the school they were going to stay at during the Gothia Cup week. Living in a school with other teams from all over the world makes a great impact. They are making friends and get to explore different nationalities! On Monday the team had their first game, which they won after a 3-1 victory over Tromsö IL from Norway. After the game the team and all their supporters went to Eva’s Paley, a cozy coffee house in the center of Gothenburg, to have a supporter kick-off and to celebrate Project Playground FC’s first victory.
Project Playground FC’s winning strike continued and they won their group against teams from Sweden, Norway and Jordan. Our amazing team made it to the 1/16 final in B18 play off A! Unfortunately they lost against from Sweden and were thereby eliminated from the tournament. However, their adventure did not stop there…
Outside the soccer fields of Gothia Cup the team’s adventure continued with rollercoasters and bumper cars at the amusement park Liseberg, boat trip, disco, bathing, a Swedish division 1 game, and a bit of walking around in the warm and sunny city of Gothenburg. They also got to play a friendly game against the IFK Göteborg U17 team.
Before they went home to South Africa the team stayed two days in Hovås, where they enjoyed swimming in the archipelago, barbeque and just relaxing before the long journey home.
On Tuesday July 22, it was time for the boys and coaches to say good bye to Sweden and go home to Cape Town and Langa.
This was a life changing experience for the boys! During their 10 day stay in Sweden they got to play soccer, meet youth from all over the world, making a lot of new friends and experience other cultures. It was days filled with awakening, self-awareness, gratitude and inspiration. For most of the boys these experiences will have a huge impact on how they choose to live their life and memories that they will cherish forever.
Our biggest and most humble thank you to Elisabeth Whitefield, Charlotte Bergman, Maria Moa and Jim Ternander (and everyone else supporting) for the tremendous work you did so our 14 boys and two coaches could participate in this once in a lifetime and epic experience. And a big thank you to all the sponsors who made this possible – Caroline Winberg with friends, Jetshop, Drop of Mindfulness, DHL Freight Sweden, Eton, Turkish Airlines, Aki Travel, Futchi, Team Sportia, Gothia Cup, Skyltproduktion, Pizzeria Roma, Vinga of Sweden, Liseberg, Elkillarna and Eva’s Paley.
Letter from Lwazi Galada, Captain of the U18 team:
“Firstly let me greet you on behalf of the U/18 team that went to this wonderful trip to Sweden. Ever since I arrived back home from Sweden I have been thinking about this wonderful opportunity and when my coach Raymond asked me to write about the experience that I got in Sweden I was so happy and excited to share this great experience I had.
It all started at the airport when we received a warm welcome from the Swedish supporters. Some of the boys had a problem regarding the food we ate at the plane and it was also a long day for us, therefore we appreciated it very much. We went to this wonderful place were we stayed for a day and then we drove on to Gothenburg to get ready for the tournament. It was so great seeing the beauty of Sweden and the kindness of the people living here on our way to the school we stayed in.
As a captain I wish I had the whole day to speak about this great experience we had, but unfortunately time is a problem. I learned so much seeing wonderful Swedish people, and Sweden is a well planned country. I was so chocked seeing trams and busses on the same road, not forgetting the food, yhooor I liked Swedish meatballs.
It was sad when we lost in the 16th final, but I was happy again because I think GOD wanted us to enjoy Sweden and having sufficient time to experience and enjoy this wonderful place. Liseberg was one of the places we went to and we got to enjoy ourself riding all these great rides and meeting new people like the Swedish girls (laughing), they were so kind and it felt special to us.
Talking about our fans yhoor I’m so speechless, they were so wounderful being there for us each and every minute when we needed them, I felt like I had been adopted. I’m so greatful being in PPG and getting to go on this wonderful trip. One day I would like to live in Sweden because I have learned so much from the country and people. Thank you so much to all the people that made it possible for us to go, for some of us it was a dream come true to go abroad and you made our dreams come true. We thank you sooo much and hoping to see all of our supporters again in South Africa.
Letter from Stamper “Roro” Mthunziwokuphumla, Coach of the U18 team:
“I just like to greet you on behalf of the whole team that went to Sweden. Let me also take this opportunity to give my thanks and praises to all the PPG staff as well as to our sponsors and supporters.
We had so much fun, enjoyment and total care from you and the all the supporters that were with us. We have experienced a lot of change whithin ourselves since we got to meet almost the whole world just in a short space of time. Also getting friends from different places around the world was such a good experience. The camp at Dalsjöfors made us adapt very well, I remember the food at Pizza Roma, the chicken pizza at that place was nice. We had great memories at the school we stayed in, they gave us food that was very healthy. Also to mention the games we played at Heden and the other fields. I was also delighted to get myself in a boat that went to the Leadership Party, were I found my self rubbing sholders whith great people like Mr Stefan Anderson, the guru of Gothia Cup himself.
Thank you very much!”