This year's Norway Cup was a success for Hydro and the sponsored teams, both on and off the field. The team of young boys from Jamaica made it all the way to the final in their class, while the Brazilian team seized victory in the B Final. Meanwhile all participants conducted themselves in exemplary fashion and enjoyed an injury-free tournament.
This year Hydro sponsored three teams in the Norway Cup tournament. The teams' participation was part of the program Hydro has run since 1998, a program that places as much emphasis on schoolwork and learning as it does on football skills when selecting players.
This year's efforts in the world's biggest football tournament demonstrate that school and football can go hand in hand.
To the A Final
The Essex Valley All Stars, who hail from the area around Hydro's part-owned alumina refinery Alpart in Jamaica, were unbeaten right through to the A Final for boys under 14 years. In the final, however, they succumbed to an extremely skilled Brazilian team that won 4-0.
"I am incredibly proud to be the first captain to get so far. All in all I'm happy about being the runner-up, though it does feel rather bitter right now," said captain Kanil Harrison after losing the final to the Brazilian team Pequeninos on Saturday.
Since Hydro's football program was launched in 1998, none of the participating teams had previously made it through to the A Final. This year's result gave Jon Arild Larsen, Hydro vice president and the prime mover driving behind the program, an extra reason to smile.
"This week has been a dream from start to finish. All the teams played well and behaved impeccably; I won't easily forget this week."
Victory in B Final
The team Alunorte Rain Forest, coming from the area around Hydro's part-owned Alunorte bauxite mines and alumina refinery in Brazil, shared first place in their group in the qualifying round, but due to an inferior goal difference the Brazilian youngsters had to be content with the B Final.
But they made a great effort here and on Friday afternoon the boys were able to raise the winners' trophy above their heads.
"Our visit to Norway has been perfect. I've got to know a new culture, a new place and a new country," says Iuri Costa Rezende. Like most young players he dreams of becoming a professional footballer, though the 15-year old does nevertheless say that this is not the most important thing in life.
"It's the dream of all Brazilian teenagers to become a professional footballer. But if I don't make it, I'll do my very best at school and get myself a good job."
Alunorte Rain Forest's trainer, Alberto Martins Müller, thanked Hydro for their support which made the Norway Cup participation possible. He was keen to point out that the trip to Norway was not only about football.
"The most important thing for us has been to show the boys that they can get more out of life by getting an education and developing themselves. Now they've seen how things work outside their home."
The team from the area around the Slovalco aluminium plant in Slovakia won its group in the Norway Cup qualifying rounds, but was subsequently knocked out by an Icelandic team.
Jon Arild Larsen hopes that the football trip to Norway has motivated the young footballers to both work and play hard when they get back home.
"The players have been fine ambassadors for their families, their countries and their plants, and I hope that their trip to Norway, along with the Norway Cup participation, has provided them with valuable experience to serve them well later in life."