DStv Diski Challenge winners Stellenbosch FC looking to dazzle in the UK

DStv Diski Challenge (DDC) winners, Stellenbosch FC have safely landed in the United Kingdom (UK) to start their champions international tour which includes participation in the English Premier League’s Next Gen Cup. Stellies were crowned (DDC) champions earlier this year with the success coming only in their second season in the competition.

The Cape side wrapped up the title on a dramatic final day of the season, earning themselves the coveted international trip that comes with winning the DDC. The DDC international trip is making a return after a two-year absence due to the restrictions on international travel brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

This year’s trip includes a special invite into the Premier League’s Next Gen Cup. The Premier League Next Gen Cup, established in 2019, falls under a long-standing Mutual Cooperation Agreement between the Premier League and the Indian Super League (ISL) to collaboratively support the growth of the local game in India with a focus on youth and referee development.

For the first time the event is being hosted in the UK and presents an incredible opportunity for Mzansi to promote its local emerging talent.

“We are excited for our Diski Challenge champions, Stellenbosch FC, and are looking forward to them getting exposure of this magnitude, whilst showcasing the immense talent we have in this country. It’s our continued commitment to enrich lives and provide the necessary support to develop skills of young talent,” says Collen Dlamini, Group Executive of Corporate Affairs at MultiChoice.

The Premier League have been supporting grassroots football in South Africa for the last 15 years through its flagship International Premier Skills programme, in partnership with the British Council, upskilling over 2,600 local community coaches and referees; benefitting 17,800 young people. It has also held a long- standing partnership with the Grootbos Foundation, supporting their football community engagement programmes. Over the 9-day trip, Stellenbosch FC will be immersed in a plethora of activities which include a welcome at the Premier League offices, tour of and training sessions at Leicester City’s state-of-the-art training complex, panel discussions with former Premier League footballers, academy knowledge sharing for the technical team, a London sightseeing tour and of course participation at the Next Gen tournament.

This year’s tournament is divided into two; Next Gen Midlands and London hosted at Leicester City FC and Tottenham Hotspur FC first team training grounds, respectively. Stellies will be competing in the Midlands edition comprising of themselves, Leicester City FC, Nottingham Forest FC and one of two Indian Super League teams competing, Bengaluru FC.

The tournament format is comprised of two semifinals followed by a third and fourth place-playoff and the final. Evangelos Vellios’ charges have been drawn against Nottingham Forest FC in the second semifinal on Wednesday, July 27th from 6pm local time. The winner will advance to the final on Saturday, July 30th against either Leicester City FC or Bengaluru FC with the loser playing in the third and fourth playoff.

Also thrown in the mix are two friendlies in London on either side of the Next Gen Cup, against the second Indian Super League team, Kerala Blasters FC on Tuesday, July 26th hosted at West Ham United FC academy.

Tour schedule:
- Sunday, July 24 Departure for London on Virgin Atlantic airlines
- Monday, July 25 Arrival in London
- Premier League office welcome
- Tuesday, July 26 Friendly match against Kerala Blasters
- Travel to Leicester
- Wednesday, July 27 Next Gen Cup semifinal against Nottingham Forest
- Thursday, July 28 Recovery session at Loughborough University
- Friday, July 29 Tour of Leicester City Training Complex
- Saturday, July 30 Next Gen Cup 3rd/4th Playoff and Final
- Sunday, July 31 Travel to London
- London sightseeing tour
- Monday, August 1 Friendly match against AFC Wimbledon
- Departure for home on Virgin Atlantic airlines