Celebrating twenty years of the Credit Suisse Cup – an impressive success story
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Celebrating twenty years of the Credit Suisse Cup – an impressive success story

Why do an increasing number of schoolchildren take part every year in the Credit Suisse Cup, the official schools' football championship in Switzerland? Because football is something that even kids and youth can get excited about and involved with. But also because this tournament, which is organized by the Swiss Football Association (SFA), provides a framework for putting talent to the test, for sparking love of the game, and for celebrating success with team spirit.

For 20 years now, Credit Suisse has been the main partner of the Credit Suisse Cup as part of its commitment as the main sponsor of the Swiss Football Association. What began in 1981 as the first official schools' championship has since become an important national schools' football tournament. The extent of participation with over 5,500 teams from fourth to ninth grade classes demonstrates that a passion for football can get even the youngest players involved. They compete in 13 categories in local qualifiers and cantonal play-offs for a place in the national finals. The traditional venue for the final, the St. Jakob Stadium in Basel, sets the stage for over 3,000 players each June.

Those who take part in the Credit Suisse Cup give their best, surpass themselves, work for the team, strive to win right to the end, and are rewarded with high emotions. This passion for football is shared by the support staff and teachers, and by parents and fans on the sidelines. This communal experience has a magical quality and shows clearly what football can achieve. As a mass participation sport, it is there at the grass roots; it has a mobilizing and integrating effect, encourages competition, and strengthens cohesion. Players learn to deal with defeat and cope with setbacks, without losing their enthusiasm. In short, football is a practical school of life – with just as much importance attached to fair play as to team spirit.

Recollections of former participants and current ambassadors

Cinzia Zehnder, Florijana Ismaili, Breel Embolo and Denis Zakaria: They are all successful footballers today and important role models for young footballing talent.

Cinzia Zehnder, a player in the senior women's team and a Credit Suisse Cup ambassador, still remembers her experiences in the Credit Suisse Cup: "At the start of my career, I only trained with boys, and the Credit Suisse Cup was the only tournament where I was able to play alongside girls. That was always a highlight for me. The level in the tournament was surprisingly high, and it also contributed to our cohesion as a class. I'm pleased that the Credit Suisse Cup is now much bigger than in my day – it's a real success story."

Florijana Ismaili, a player in the senior women's team and a Credit Suisse Cup ambassador, remembers exactly what it was like when she was playing in the Credit Suisse Cup: "For me it was the highlight of the year, simply the best thing ever. I started to get excited as soon as I registered, and I looked forward to each tournament. I scored six goals in my very first match – that convinced my parents about my talent."

Breel Embolo, a member of the senior men's team and a Credit Suisse Cup ambassador, discovered his passion for football at a young age: "I came into contact with football just through playing. For boys it's a kind of foundation sport. You can play football and let off steam almost anywhere. But it wasn't until the Credit Suisse Cup that I discovered my passion for team sport. There's nothing like the experience of playing in a team."

Denis Zakaria, a member of the senior men's team and a Credit Suisse Cup ambassador, was also involved as a junior and still today recalls influential experiences in his team: "I have amazing memories of the Credit Suisse Cup. The main focus was on the fun of the game, and for some of my classmates it was actually their first time on a football pitch."

The path to the finals

The path to the grand finals is demanding and leads from the local qualifying tournaments held nationwide via the regional play-offs. People can keep track of the excitement of the tournament stages and read reports on social media via Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat. There are live reports and exciting contents on social media - so it's well worth it to follow along.

Taking part is the best first-hand experience

You can only truly find out what it's like to be part of one of the 5,500 teams by taking part. And because nothing can replace first-hand experience, as many football-mad students as possible should sign up to participate in the tournament. You can find out how to do so at www.credit-suisse-cup.ch.