It might not be the World Cup, but an annual football tournament in Oslo has a global profile. This year, 30,000 football players from 42 nations participate in Norway Cup, and children and youth find unity both off and on the pitch.
Norway Cup has attracted football enthusiasts to Oslo since 1972 to participate in what is one of the world's largest tournaments. Since then, 430 participating teams have grown to 1,500 teams, and as always it is the colourful unity that is the focus when matches are played 30 July- 5 August.
In 1979, the Brazilian team Pequeninos participated in Norway Cup for the first time. The players were from the city slums in Brazil, and their participation provided them with much needed break from everyday hardships. This has become a tradition and every year 20-30 teams from the developing world are invited to Norway Cup. The tournament's director, Frode Kyvåg, says that the diversity is something all the cup participants gain from.
"It might be considered a drop in the ocean. But we are convinced that this drop makes a difference. Norwegian youth become more aware of the outside world through meetings with peers from different cultural and social backgrounds and skin colour. We see the effect through, among other things, the increase in numbers of friendship clubs," said Kyvåg.
Norway Cup co-operates with several international partners, including the Red Cross and Mathare Youth Sports Association (MYSA), a project in Kenya that offers football as a way out of the slums. From the first Mathare team arriving barefoot at Norway Cup in 1989, the team has become one of the best participants on the field.
In addition to being a football tournament, Norway Cup is also an event where cultural and artistic impulses can run wild. The opening show with both international and Norwegian artists draws thousands of people every year, and a culture stage offers a forum for sharing poems, songs and other creative talents. With 32 Oslo schools and seven hotels housing the participants, the social arenas for long-lasting and global friendships are also in place.