3821 goals had already been scored when the first match day concluded, and tonight’s Gothia Opening Ceremony celebrated the start of a week where many more is to come. The goals and the matches are what unite the tens of thousands players and their team leaders, relatives and friends, and the Ceremony at Ullevi is where everyone come together in the spirit of harmony and fellowship.
It is a moment where memories are created, where joy and hope are in abundance and where song, dance and the celebration of the diversity of the tournament is front and center.
”This is the night where we gather the world of youth football in one arena and celebrate the game together. Football is all about emotions and this night we let all emotions out in Ullevi. Even if I personally has experienced this 38 times, I get just as moved every year,” said Dennis Andersson, General Secretary of Gothia Cup.
As the Opening Ceremony kicked off with the message ”You are all heroes!” ringing through the stadium, Ullevi was packed with players representing the 1731 teams from 78 nations.
Together, they got to experience an exciting and colourful evening, starting with the entrance of the 250 dancers and the choir, all eager to show off what they’ve been practicing for the last week.
The one and a half hour long show then continued with the first of many flag parades for the evening, where the participating nations got a chance to represent their culture.
The ceremony was also framed by parts of the message in the fair play project Celebrate the Game throughout the evening, where the intention is to create a positive and respectful atmosphere on and off the pitches. And the ceremony was the perfect place, as Ullevi was practically shaking with positive vibes.
In between the presentations of the nations, the audience got to see the Swedish female and male national football teams in a short clip, signing for Respect Every Body – a campaign highlighting the importance of respect for one’s own and others’ body boundaries. The Gothia Cup participants were then invited to join them by creating a magnificent tifo together, spanning all over the stadium.
Even though the rain started pouring down for a period, the mood was still high. More flag parades kept coming, and with it, more nations were presented – although a bit wetter than the earlier nations representatives.
One of the Ceremony’s more powerful moments where when six players entered the main stage to read the Gothia Cup oath in the tournament’s six major languages. Few eyes were dry when the audience stood up together during the declaration of the official opening of this years tournament.
As the tones of Avicii’s ”Wake Me Up” played out and the mighty fireworks took over to close out the show, the audience got to witness a Gothia Cup tradition that hopefully will live on forever.
One thing to be sure, the memory of the evening will live on among the players for a long time. And maybe they got the feeling that Gothia Cup is much more than just football.
”Gothia Cup is proud to be the world’s biggest meeting place for children and adolescents. This week our participants will make friendships that will last for a lifetime. I encourage them to take this chance and learn from each others cultures. And to celebrate the game!” said Dennis Andersson, General Secretary of Gothia Cup.