EXCITEMENT AND PRIDE ON DISPLAY AT THE SATUC CUP DRAW AND PRESS CONFERENCE
The date was 29 August, 2015, the venue was the grand ballroom of the Fairmont Heliopolis and Towers Hotel in Cairo.
The event, which was to set the tone for the next five days of excitement, suspense and outstanding sporting professionalism was the Grand Draw for the 2015 SATUC Cup. A charity event of extraordinary ambition and vision the SATUC Cup has forged an exciting new path for the support of disadvantaged, orphaned and refugee children from around the world.
Presided over by HH Princess Sheikha Al-Thani, the founder and moving spirit behind SATUC and the SATUC Cup, the launch event was intended to introduce the teams, and the SATUC Cup Ambassadors to the world’s press, and to make the all-important team draw that would kick off the first round of the tournament.
But before that business - which was followed by a lavish buffet lunch - got underway, a glittering array of distinguished speakers lined up to pay tribute to Sheikha and to SATUC, setting out their hopes and expectations of what this bold and imaginative tournament would achieve.
Introduced by former BBC Sports editor Andrew Thomson, the array of VIP speakers consisted of SATUC’s Honorary President Hassan Shehata, Sheikha Al Thani, the SATUC Cup Honorary President Ahmed Hassan, Gamal Allam, the President of the Egyptian FA, Dr Ashraf Sobhay from the Government of Egypt’s Ministry of Youth and Sport, Leslie J Baja the Philippines Ambassador to Egypt, SATUC Ambassador Rabah Madjer, Dragan Bisenic the Ambassador of Serbia, Wedady Weld Seedy Heiba the Ambassador of Mauritania, and the Colombian dancer Fernando Montano, a star of London’s Royal Ballet. All of them expressed their pleasure at being present on such an important occasion and thanked SATUC for making the event possible.
In his opening address, Andrew Thompson summed up the feelings of many in the room, saying:
“I have been very fortunate and attended many of the great sporting events around the world during my media career, but I cannot recall anything quite like the SATUC World Cup. It is a unique and wonderful new addition to the international sporting calendar and a great tribute to the vision and passion and enormously dedicated work of the founders and organisers, Princess Sheikha and her mother Meshkah Tawfik.”
“The 64 boys in this room are pioneers and each one of you can be extremely proud that you are a part of the inaugural SATUC World Cup.”
Andrew then handed over the podium to a characteristically poised Sheikha Al-Thani (16), who said:
“The SATUC World Cup is a dream that has been made real because of the astonishing vision, work and generosity of so many people who have partnered with us to make this day happen.
“We thank our sponsors and ambassadors; our volunteers and our guests; the media and the logistical teams, and all the charities, organisations and footballing legends from around the world who have helped us to organise the trials and the teams.”
“We are very happy that for the next few days these talented young men were able to leave behind whatever challenges they have had to overcome as they have a week of playing football, being coached, meeting new friends from around the world and getting the opportunity to see the amazing city of Cairo.”
She added: “This is what SATUC is really about, giving children and young people the chance to dream bigger and think bigger than their immediate horizons; to give the gift of confidence and aspiration. I was fortunate to grow up with all the luxuries any child yearns for. However, as I grew older, I started to realise that these meant nothing to me unless they were shared with others.”
“That is why we created the SATUC World Cup. So that we could give young people from around the world a life-changing opportunity to take part in a unique new sporting event. We chose football because it’s the most global sport on the planet and is arguably the most universal language ever created.”
After the speeches, the guests were then introduced to the real stars of the SATUC Cup, the teams of boys and their charity sponsors, many of whom were making their first trip abroad. These were as follows; Syria, brought over by the Syria Al Gad Relief Foundation co-ordinated through London-based Syria Relief; Algeria, selected by that country’s national Commission for the Promotion of Health and the Development of Research in Algeria; England brought by the London-based community football organisation ‘2 Touch Rulz’.
The squad from the Ivory Coast was selected from orphanages in Abidjan by their former international striker and SATUC World Cup ambassador Papa Sec. They were selected by The Sport and Culture Association of Riyadh in Mauritania, which focuses on developing children at different ages through sports, especially football. The Moroccan team was selected by the Moroccan Children’s Trust, and the Philippine team were drawn from across the archipelago supervised by Coach Patrina Caceres on behalf of the Football for Life project.
Last but not least, the Egyptian team was introduced, brought to the SATUC Cup with the assistance of the Ministry of Solidarity after an extensive trial process across the country, with two of Egypt's footballing greats, SATUC Honorary President Hassan Shehata and 2015 SATUC Cup Honorary President Ahmed Hassan helping to select the final squad.
Then it was time for the climax of the occasion, the drawing of the teams, which would determine the shape of the contest, and perhaps the final winner. Doing the honours was Egyptian FA President Mr Gamal Allam and, by the luck of the draw, the groups were as follows: Group 1 - Egypt, England, Syria, and the Philippines, and in Group 2 - Cote D’Ivoire, Algeria, Morocco and Mauritania.
With the event well and truly launched, the guests were treated to a spectacular display of ball skills by a super-talented young entertainers, a pure celebration of the arts of football that was to find many echoes on the pitch in the days that followed as the SATUC Cup boys proved themselves to be wizards of the round-ball game.
As one of the guests put it: “I feel I have witnessed the start of something really special. There has obviously been a huge amount of work put into the planning of this event, and when you see the smiles on the faces of the boys, who – some for the first time in their lives – are being made to feel special, then you can tell that it’s all been worth it. Not many people would have dared to carry out a logistical feat like this, so Sheikha and SATUC are to be applauded, not just for conceiving the idea, but more importantly for making it happen. Let the games commence!”
For further information contact Colin Donald firstname.lastname@example.org (44) 7793 606901