FIFA President Gianni Infantino attended a stunning final day of the African School Champions Cup in Kinshasa, lauding “the beauty of football” and previewing a strong future for a tournament prioritising education and social development through football. Morocco won the inaugural Pan-African schools’ championship for girls, with hosts DR Congo taking the honours for the boys.
The two day tournament ended with host, Democratic Republic of Congo emerging Champions of the Boys category while Morocco beat South Africa 1-0 in the Girls finals
“I am a happy man tonight. Seeing those children, boys and girls, smile and the joy in their eyes, here in Kinshasa tonight, it’s wonderful, this is the beauty of football. DRC [Democratic Republic of Congo] did a great job at organising this event, it’s a beautiful evening, this is the first edition of a fantastic competition that is certainly going to become one of the biggest competitions not only in Africa, but around the world too as those school tournaments give us a real thrill. “
“The importance of involving schools is precisely to go beyond the game, beyond only playing football and include education too. FIFA has a program called “Football for schools”, which helps all schools in the world through education and football. But the game remains something magical, the unity, the fact that it’s girls and boys from all over Africa, it’s beautiful.”
Boys and Girls teams from Schools in six countries participated in the inaugural edition with Ethiopia, South Africa, Congo DR, Benin, Senegal and Morocco.
“Everyone is very happy. We didn’t think it would be so successful. The Member Associations present here, all those who want to join us next year in this wonderful county, in this beautiful city of Kinshasa, the [Congolese] government, president [Félix] Tshishekedi, who I closely worked with to make this dream come true, the United Nations, AFD [French Development Agency], everyone is going to work even harder to make sure the party is even more beautiful next year. “
“It is a beautiful tournament, it is a beautiful day. I am a happy man tonight. When you see the smiles of these girls and these boys, and also the tears of those who did not win actually, it is pure emotion. It is schools coming together from all over the continent. It is the first edition of a tournament that will become one of the greatest celebrations of football and education in Africa, but also in other parts of the world. So, I am very happy about the incredible success of this competition and I am looking forward to the next editions. This was the first, and it is here to stay.”
“It is important to go over the simple game, over simply playing football. Including schools, it is important, education is crucial. I was speaking about this project and this tournament with President Tshisekedi over a year ago, and together we decided to launch this idea, and now we have the first edition which took place.”
“It is crucial that we use football as well, to bring countries and children together from all over Africa, from all over the world, but also to educate them in a school environment, in an educational environment. It is important to give opportunities, to give hope to so many girls and so many boys across the continent, and actually all over the world. So, it is great to be here tonight. Thank you so much.”