What a finale for the 20th Credit Suisse Cup!
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What a finale for the 20th Credit Suisse Cup!

The finals of the Swiss schools' football championship took place at Basel's St. Jakob Stadium on Wednesday, June 12, 2019.

The weather gods were kind, providing ideal conditions for the final matches of this anniversary tournament. At stake was nothing less than the Swiss schools' football championship. Only the best teams from the cantonal play-offs made it to the finals of the Credit Suisse Cup. On over 50 pitches, they competed for victory in 13 categories at Basel's St. Jakob Stadium on June 12, 2019 – making it a mega-event and an unforgettable experience for the 3,000 or so young football enthusiasts and their supporters.

Getting this far was hard work for the girls and boys from fourth to ninth grade. But the sky's the limit when you've caught the football bug and have the ball at your feet. With victory so tantalizingly close, nothing could stop the 300 or so teams from giving it their all once again. Indeed the battle for the top group placing was a veritable roller coaster of emotions: from crushing disappointment, through missed opportunities, to boundless euphoria in the final victory – pure emotion!

High standard is down to commitment

No-one can fail to notice how football fever releases tremendous energy and drives the teams to deliver outstanding sporting achievement. But as well as the extraordinary degree of enthusiasm and commitment on show, the standard of football being played is equally impressive. This is "football at its best," said an authority on the subject. "We've seen an incredible transformation over the years," he added. This is no accident, because in the 20 years during which the Credit Suisse Cup has existed it has played a huge part in establishing football as a team sport in schools and making it an unforgettable shared experience for students.

Moment of triumph: Sweet smell of success!

After a series of tough clashes, there was jubilation among the 13 teams who won in their respective categories. To be able to stand on the top step of the podium was their main goal, and now they'd achieved it. That feeling of triumph was something they would probably never forget. Each winning team was awarded a trophy, while each player received a medal – making it a great moment for everyone!

Some were completely by blown away by their own success: "Wow, we'd never even dreamed we'd be so successful," said a spokesperson for the winning team of eighth graders from Unterägeri. It was the first time the secondary school students had qualified for the final via the regional and cantonal tournament. But they grew stronger with every match and enjoyed a thrilling run. Except for the semi-final – securing victory only in extra time – they scored a decisive win on each occasion. The same was true in the final, where they wasted no time in relegating their opponents to second place with a 3-0 win. The enthusiasm was infectious, and the team's manager and class teacher announced in the after-match interview that he would be requesting a morning off school. A quick phone call to the school head and the "special prize" became a reality.

Excitement surrounds national team stars 

The tournament final had a lot going on off the field as well. Alongside exciting activities for young and old alike, various attractions were extremely popular. The clear highlight, however, was an autograph session with senior national team and Credit Suisse Cup ambassadors Cinzia Zehnder, Breel Embolo, Denis Zakaria, and Rahel Kiwic. A huge line formed in front of the stars' table as everyone tried to see their role models up close. Here too, getting an autograph on your cap, T-shirt, or autograph card called for a high level of commitment. Those looking for a selfie had a particularly difficult time getting the perfect picture. Yet the football idols weren't fazed by the throng surrounding them, giving countless autographs, smiling to the many cameras, and spending lots of time chatting to their fans. "Giving something back in this way is a real pleasure," said a thrilled Embolo on behalf of the quartet of ambassadors. It reminded him of when he started out and his encounters with his idols: "I used to be in their position too." He knows how important such moments are.

Passion and teamwork are key to success

The fact that the Credit Suisse Cup has grown in popularity from year to year – and celebrates its 20th anniversary in 2019 – is due to the long-term commitment of Credit Suisse as main partner and the Swiss Football Association (SFV) as tournament organizer. Even so, a success story like this is built on the efforts of many individuals: whether it's teachers, parents, the kids and young people who took part, coaches, or all the other people who contributed to the success of the Credit Suisse Cup in some way. Only by working together can we reignite the passion for this team event year-in, year-out.