An amateur tournament, a family reunion that sometimes resembles a nursery, or a weekend with neighbors over football? The National Neighborhood Cup passes for an unidentified football object. Whatever its contours, the event returns to Créteil (Val-de-Marne) in June, where it was created in a slightly different form three years ago, before being available all over France. The principle: bring together players from different districts of the same city according to their family origin, and organize a tournament between these “national” teams.
Powered by social networks, the first edition was immediately transformed into a popular phenomenon, the same that spreads an unusual buzz around the Duvauchelle stadium, Saturday, June 18. The troops come to survey the edge of the synthetic field that leans against it, Moroccan, Malian, Congolese and West Indian jerseys on the back, that is, those of the first teams involved in the quarter-finals. And a soundtrack is responsible for attracting the rest of the curious who are not yet familiar with the initiative.
Inter-district tournament break
Despite the reading of 38°C, several hundred were added “greet a friend”† “seeing a former student again” Where “juggling a few balls while enjoying the atmosphere”† To support Morocco, for which he won the cup against Tunisia in 2019, Rhimou Lahcel sees it mainly as an opportunity to “a good view of the suburbs. Some play for countries other than their parents’. It opens people’s minds and shows that anyone can bring the neighborhood to life.” poses this thirty-year-old employee at the town hall of Créteil.
“The original idea was to do something different from the traditional tournaments, where neighborhoods are often pitted against each other, explains Moussa Sow, Red Cross employee and founder of the event, who rejects the processes in communitarianism. There we bring several neighborhoods together in the same team. †
The most athletic mix with classmates or parents with “discovered the tournament the same day”, proof that there is “than football, which brings so much together”, Believes George, of Indian descent, who played as a child with Sammy Traoré, the Malian coach and former defender of Paris-Saint-Germain, who is one of the ex-pros who took part in the event this year. If Karim Benzema or Algerian Riyad Mahrez have sent their support, others have completely donned their crampons, such as Gabonese Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in the same tournament hosted at Le Mans.
They sometimes shun it on an unexpected level, heightened by hope seeking disclosure. The performance of the Moroccan goalkeeper will not have escaped the eyes of the recruiters of the English and Spanish championships that evening, “present of knockout matches”, Moussa Sow slips. He could follow the lead of his senior in the cages, Sami Tlemcani, who won the title in 2019 and has since been signed to Paris FC before signing for Chelsea.
A few yards from the players, the crowd is ready to jump into the opposing camp at the slightest intrusion, while every goal is synonymous with an invasion of the field. “VSwas a good try, but the referee saw the mistake”, “the tactics took over this match”, “I like this number 18” : three speakers comment on each action. In a final free kick at the end of extra time, Mali finally qualified for the semi-finals, after a game that revived the golden goal rule.
Khalid El Hamdaoui, player from Morocco, does not regret his trip, he who chose Créteil over the cup organized in his 18th arrondissement of Paris: “Like all French, we have a heritage, so it’s a bit like playing for your parents’ country.” He joins the veteran of the team, who finishes on the kneecaps, to watch the penalties won by Congo in the other match. “Make way for the cameras”, the organization repeats, while an Amazon film crew is preparing a documentary. She returns for two big premieres: the women’s matches and the final on July 2, broadcast on Prime Video, the Ligue 1 channel.
Street football found by sponsors?
In relation to the showcase that street football offers, the National Neighborhood Cup is attracting more and more sponsors. Nike was chosen to design the jerseys. If observers can see any form of recovery or even denaturation in it, event founder Moussa Sow sees it as a “coup de com” accepted, provides better visibility on social networks, where the tournament was born”† And to remember the presence “cohesive” local partners.