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Many SKF teams in the world's largest youth football tournament

Meet the World kids gathered in Gothenburg
Meet the World kids gathered in Gothenburg
Tom Johnstone and some players during the opening ceremony
Tom Johnstone and some players during the opening ceremony
Three hundred and fifty young SKF Meet the World players from different parts of the world sang and danced together when SKF welcomed its teams to Gothenburg for this year's Gothia Cup. The youth football tournament is the worlds largest, with almost 40,000 participants, and SKF is its main sponsor.

The International School of Gothenburg is a multicultural meeting place, where all Meet the World teams stay during the tournament. The teams have qualified for the Gothia Cup by competing in SKF Meet the World tournaments in their respective countries. They come from all parts of the world, from different cultures and religions. The players look different and speak different languages, but they dance, sing and play football together.
“I wish you all good luck in the tournament and I am confident that you will perform your best,” said Tom Johnstone, CEO of SKF, when he greeted all participants a warm welcome to Sweden. “But above all, I hope you enjoy your stay here in Gothenburg and that you will find many new friends from other countries and cultures.”

A welcome with a carnival atmosphere
The 21 Meet the World teams stood in small groups and chatted while they waited for the welcome ceremony to begin. You could feel the expectation in the air. Many of the players come from very poor backgrounds and have never been abroad before. It takes courage to make the first contact with people you have never met when you come from different cultures and don’t know each other’s languages. But suddenly the girls from Zambia started to dance. The boys from Lithuania joined in. Then the boys from Brazil decided to prove their worth, kicking off a samba dance. The sun starts shining. The girls from Russia danced with the boys from Indonesia. Soon the whole schoolyard swayed with songs and dances from all around the world. It was a pure carnival atmosphere. Everyone wanted to dance with everyone else, and all the teams wanted to be photographed together with all the other teams.

Outstanding opening
Gothia Cup week begins with a fascinating opening ceremony – a magnificent mix of colours, music and cultures. To a standing ovation from nearly 60,000 spectators, representatives from the 75 participating nations marched into a packed football stadium.
Tom Johnston entered the stage: “When I see all you young people here at the stadium I am proud that SKF is the main sponsor of the Gotha Cup since the start,” he said. “We are also very proud that we can help more young people, who do not have the financial capacity, to participate in Gothia Cup by our Meet the World tournament. I wish you all a successful Gothia Cup tournament and a fine time in Gothenburg. I also hope that you will take this opportunity to meet and get to know many new friends from other teams and other cultures.”
After the speech, several skate board, mountain bike and roller blade riders showed their skills on the stage. The total event ended with a spectacular fireworks display and cheering from the crowd.

Meet the World teams from 20 countries
SKF Meet the World is played in countries where SKF is represented. This year, 21 teams from 20 nations took part, all of whom had qualified through Meet the World and received travel and subsistence expenses in Gothenburg paid by SKF. Six of the 21 teams are girls' team. One of the teams – from France – is a Special Olympics team for youths with disabilities.

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Participating Meet the World teams:
Albania, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, China, Czech Republic, Estonia, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Latvia, Lithuania, Malaysia, Mexico, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, Russia, Zambia

Gothia Cup 2012 facts:
37,400 participants
1,545 teams
75 nations
110 playing fields
30% girls and 70% boys

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