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Princess Sheikha Al-Thani Launching the SATUC Cup 2015

The Arab-British Chamber of Commerce (A-BCC) in London was the venue for a very special press conference on Thursday March 25th when Princess Sheikha Al-Thani launched the 2015 SATUC Cup in front of many global media crews including BeIn Sports, El Araby, NTN24 and BBC. As a lifelong fan of West London's Queens Park Rangers, a member of the A-BCC, and CEO of AAD, it was an honour to receive an invitation to the launch of this innovative and exciting international event.

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The SATUC Cup is a new biennial international football competition for disadvantaged young people. Teams of 14 and 15 year old boys from different nations will compete in an inspirational new six-a-side football tournament in Cairo at the end of August.

There will be representatives from England, Egypt, Colombia, Philippines, Honduras, Algeria, Jordan, Morocco and a team of refugees from Syria who have, tragically, been orphaned during the civil war. Other national teams will be confirmed in the coming weeks.

The squads will be selected from young people who have often experienced incredibly difficult lives. Some of the players will have grown up in in broken homes whilst others have already endured great poverty during their childhoods.

egypt copyOne of the regional SATUC Cup trials in Egypt Image Courtesy :: SATUC.org

What makes this project especially unusual is that the founder and driving force behind the SATUC Cup is only 15 years old. Princess Sheikha Al-Thani was born in New York in 1999 and is a member of the ruling family of Qatar, although her Egyptian mother brought her up in England, Egypt and the USA, and she has lived mainly in London since 2011.

Princess Sheikha Al-Thani Launching the SATUC Cup 2015 She has been involved in projects that assist underprivileged children for her whole life and from a very young age spent her annual vacations visiting some of the most deprived regions of Egypt. In 2013 Princess Sheikha and her family founded SATUC (Sheikha Al Thani for Uniting Children) as a charity registered in Egypt and working out of Cairo and London, and they have already supported several grassroots projects in Sudan, Egypt, Philippines and Scotland as well as local communities within London. In 2014 they staged an inaugural football event for local teams in Egypt and it was such a success that they decided to expand it this year. Princess Sheikha, who has played football all her life and took part in Chelsea’s 2011 Foundation Programme, said "I had the idea for the SATUC Cup because I believe that football has a unique capacity to unite people and cultures and I'm delighted that the project is going to give a special and potentially life-changing experience for so many young people.

:Princess Sheikha Al-Thani with members of 2 Touch Rulz, London Image Courtesy :: SATUC.org

 

Our purpose is to help children who have had a difficult start in life and our belief is that they should not be defined by where they come from but what they are capable of and how big their dreams can be. We are so grateful for the wonderful support that we have had from so many people across the world who are helping to make the SATUC Cup such an extraordinary event." The Honorary President of the 2015 SATUC Cup, the most capped footballer in international history and Egyptian sporting legend, Ahmed Hassan, joined Princess Sheikha at the launch.

ahmedAhmed Hassan, Honorary President Of The 2015 SATUC Cup Image Courtesy :: SATUC.org

Hassan, who had flown in from Egypt with his former teammate Nader El Sayed specifically to attend the event said, "I am very proud to be a part of this extraordinary new project and know that it has enormous support in Egypt and around the world. The 2015 SATUC Cup will give these young men an amazing opportunity to showcase their skills, meet others players from different cultures and have a chance to follow in the footsteps of their heroes. What Princess Sheikha and SATUC are trying to achieve is truly inspirational and I hope that many other footballers, clubs and managers will support the SATUC Cup as it grows in future years." Hassan, the current Team Director of the Egyptian national side, is overseeing the selection process for the home side and is in charge of whittling the final 120 boys down to a group of eight players that he’ll manage at the tournament. Another major international name who will be travelling to Cairo in August is Jorge Pinto. The manager of Honduras took Costa Rica to the quarterfinals of the 2014 World Cup and he will also coach the Honduran team at the SATUC Cup.


jorgepintoGeorge Pinto, Coach of the SATUC Cup Honduras team Image Courtesy :: SATUC.org

The CEO of Quicken Media and former Head of Sport at Channel 4, Andrew Thompson chaired the Press Conference. Other panellists who spoke included Chris Rule from the London football project '2 Touch Rulz' who are organising the trials for the team from England, and Andres Munoz from the 'KISO Lab Foundation’ in Colombia, the organisation that will select their national side.

Thompson was very impressed with the SATUC Cup launch. "During my time with the BBC and Ch4 I was a part of many sporting charity projects, including the creation of Sport Relief in 2002, but what makes this so different is that it is being created and driven by Princess Sheikha who, at just 15 years of age, is a contemporary of the disadvantaged young people SATUC are trying to reach.” Also in attendance were His Excellency Nasser Kamel, Ambassador of the Arab Republic of Egypt and His Excellency Ivan Romero-Martinez, Ambassador of Honduras.

Screen Shot 2015 03 30 at 22 46 24The SATUC Cup, on display at the launch Image Courtesy :: SATUC.org

The SATUC Cup already has an impressive list of ambassadors and supporters including the President of Honduras, Juan Orlando Hernández, The First Lady of Colombia, María Clemencia Rodriguez, former Chelsea, Tottenham and LA Galaxy goalkeeper Carlo Cudicini, Royal Ballet soloist and patron of the Colombian side Fernando Montaño, Wigan and Oman goalkeeper Ali Al-Habsi and Ahmed Elmohamady. Twice a winner of the Africa Cup of Nations and currently playing in the Premier League with Hull City the 27 year old has been capped 69 times by Egypt.

Many of those taking part have spent much of their lives just struggling to survive and have not travelled more than a few miles from where they were born. This tournament, which is supported by the Egyptian Minister of Social Solidarity, Dr Ghada Wali, and sponsored by Youm7 and CBC News, will provide them with a unique opportunity to demonstrate their skills and potential.

During their five days in Cairo the teenagers will play competitive football, meet other young people from around the world, be coached by leading international names and experience life in one of the world’s greatest cities.

Princess Sheikha hopes that the SATUC Cup of 2015 is just the beginning and that the tournament will grow and flourish and be staged every two years in a different country. “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. Those others are the underprivileged children who were deprived of these little things that add a smile on their faces and we hope that our event will give the players a life changing opportunity.”

For more information, and to follow the SATUC Cup on Facebook and Twitter, visit the website www.satucfootballcup.org

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About the Author

Elliot Lee

Elliot Lee

Elliot Lee founded his antique business in 1994. Having bought his first Antique piece at the tender age of eleven, it has since then been his passion for Antiques, Fine Art, and aesthetically beautif...