Still Part of the World
'Even though we live as an occupied people, it is important for us to show the world that the Palestinians are still a part of the world. That is partly the reason why we take part in Dana Cup,'
Farid Jaber explains.
He is part of Football Academy of Jerusalem that takes part in the tournament for the first time with a team in class B12. The Academy consists of 120 boys aged 5-13 and last year Jerusalem FC participated in the Gothia Cup in Sweden.
'There we heard about Dana Cup and this year the tournament in Hjørring has been very helpful finding accommodation and, thus, given us a unique opportunity to take part in the world's third largest football tournament for young players,' smiles Farid Jaber, who stresses that both players and managers have paid for everything themselves.
'We do not have any sponsors, who pay for us. The boys' parents all have simple jobs and have saved up and worked hard enabling the boys to have this experience,' says Farid Jaber, who works as a secretary at the Academy while handling a job at the community centre five kilometres outside Jerusalem city centre.
'We won our two matches yesterday and, naturally, we want to win as many matches as possible. However, our goal is to show the world to the boys and give them the opportunity to meet other children and youth from other countries, plus show the world that we as Palestinians are part of the world community and finally, of course, play football and get by as best we can,' Farid Jaber says.
The Spirit of Iceland
Since the good result of the Icelandic national team at the UEFA European Championship 2016 the spirit of Iceland has become recognized worldwide. One can find this fighting spirit among the players of the Icelandic G14-Team of Grótta FC from the capital Reykjavik. Yesterday, they drew 1-1 in their first match against Norwegian Skedsmo FK.
'It was a good game with high tempo,' a satisfied coach Bojana Besic said. However, both coaches Bojana Besic and Pétur Rögnvaldsson stressed that the Iceland players first have to get used to the warm weather in Denmark because it is cooler in Iceland.
'This year we are participating with two teams in G13 and G14', coach Bojana Besic explained. They have been to Dana Cup three times and, actually, before they came to Hjørring in 2014 for the first time, they asked around in Iceland about the tournament. Teams from Iceland typically go to Gothia Cup, Vildbjerg Cup or Dana Cup.
'When we started looking for a tournament we asked people, who have been here. People recommended the tournament and they said that the organisation was very good with the buses and the accommodation, and so we decided to take a chance. And when we came here in 2014 it was very great; the organisation and every thing,' added coach Bojana Besic, who really like this year's pitches.
Kitchen set a New Record
Dana Cup's kitchen set a new record at lunch on Tuesday. No less than 14,630 participants had lunch in 210 minutes. This corresponds to 71 meals per minute.
Lunch took place in Fiberhallen and Hallen Park Vendia, which were in use at the Dana Cup 2015 for the first time. And it turned out to work exceptionally well. Despite the large number of servings lunch ran smoothly.
The previous record from 2015 was 12,195 servings. However, with 1,153 teams, which are 64 teams or about 1200 participants more than last year, the old record was beaten at this year's Dana Cup.
Do not Compromise on Quality
Since 2011 the number of participants at Dana Cup has grown by 51 per cent. Even though, some years ago people said that the tournament could not get any bigger, every year one has been able to find additional football fields and accommodation for more and more participants.
'Personally, I believe that we can organise a Dana Cup with up to 1,200 teams, but for me it is not important that we grow each year. I find it more important that we continue to offer all players, managers and families the high quality that Dana Cup is known for and which ensures that clubs return year after year,' director of the Dana Cup, Jette Andersen, says.
'Dana Cup is a Hjørring event; the town of Hjørring and Hjørring municipality and we must never become so big that we cannot be in Hjørring municipality. One of our qualities is that we offer free transport, meals in modern facilities and a very well organized tournament where we try to accommodate the wishes of the clubs. These are qualities which mean that up to 75 per cent of our participating clubs keep returning and, therefore, we never compromise on quality,' stresses Jette Andersen, who does not hesitate to point to the employees as one of the event's strongest assets.
'We experience great support among the more than 1,000 volunteers who help out time and time again by working many hours during the tournament. It is partly our own players in Fortuna Hjørring and it is partly members of a number of different clubs that earn some money by using volunteers in this week. For many clubs it is actually a fair sum of money contributing to the running of the clubs.'
'However, I find it important that Dana Cup is not too big because the unity among the volunteers must continue to grow and be strengthened. Many of those who help are people we do not know. Many do not even have anything to do with football. They turn up because it has become a tradition and because it has become a lifestyle to help out during Dana Cup.
'And, naturally, it is also vital that we continue to have a close cooperation with Hjørring municipality. We experience a fantastic support from the entire organisation and not least from mayor Arne Boelt, who gladly helps out,' Jette Andersen underlines.
Provide Space for 826 Teams
Even though Bob Andersen has provided accommodation for 826 teams during this year's record-breaking Dana Cup, he seems neither stressed nor nervous.
'Accommodation is not a bottleneck in relation to the fact that Dana Cup can continue to grow and still offer high quality for both players and managers. This year we have taken Løkken school and the private school in Hundelev in use, plus this year we can again use Hjørring Private Realskole, which was under renovation last year.
'Hjørring municipality is very supportive, and we can't praise the cooperation enough. Many new opportunities arise and I'm confident that if we had been asked five years ago if we could provide accommodation for an additional 400 teams, most people would probably have said no.'
'But this year we have practically no teams in the high school due to renovation, so next year we will be able to accommodate 40 teams there. Moreover, Hjørring Private Realskole is renovating an older building right now, thus enabling us to place more teams there next year, so we should be able to keep up with demand,' smiles Bob Andersen, who also has a close cooperation with 15 hotels and hostels, plus he can offer accommodation at Dana Cup's own sports centre with more than 100 beds.
Just Keep Playing
When you are not playing on a football pitch, you have ample opportunity to continue playing – even virtually. In the Event Area you can find the big FIFA tent. In addition to the latest FIFA games on the big consoles, there are several other computers ready with Minecraft, League of Legends or Counter-Strike Global Offensive.
'However, guests are also welcome to check their mail or play another game,' explains Marco Lavgard, who has already had to provide more seating options for the many interested players, who clearly enjoy themselves.
The FIFA tent is open daily from 10:00 a.m. to 10.00 p.m.
Newly Married Referee at Dana Cup
Barely two weeks ago 26-year-old Emilia Karpeta-Kubat walked down the aisle at home in Poland. Then Tuesday morning she refereed her first game at Dana Cup 2016. A great experience for the young referee, who takes part in Dana Cup for the first time – and this time without her husband, because he had to work.
'Perhaps next year he'll come along,' smiles Emilia Karpeta-Kubat, who is looking forward to spending a week at the world's third largest youth football tournament. So far, it has been a fantastic experience to be part of this huge tournament.
'I have refereed for eight years and referee in the best league for girls as well as in a regional league for men,' explains Emilia Karpeta-Kubat, who has never played football. On the other hand, she has twice been Polish champion in long jump.
'I became a referee because my father was also a referee but, although, I have ambitions and really want to referee at a higher level it is difficult because I began rather late,' adds Emilia Karpeta-Kubat, who despite her modest height is quick to make herself respected – even among the tall Norwegian players in class B16.
At home in Poland she works as a teacher in a vocational school as nutrition coach and as a referee.
Sportswear is selling like hotcakes
The ferries had barely docked in Hirtshals before the first players turned up at Sportsmaster's big tent in Dana Cup's Centre Area. Players were ready to spend money and, consequently, they left the store with big bags and happy smiles.
'Sportswear of all kinds is selling like hotcakes. Among other things, we have an entire wall with the latest Adidas soccer boots and also the latest Nike models. Most of the young footballers are raving about both brands,' smiles Matthias Jensen, who is one of 35 busy employees in Sportmaster's tent.
Focus on Security
With 1,153 teams of which 826 are accommodated in schools in many parts of the municipality, it has never been more important to focus on security. And at the school meeting on Tuesday, Jan Mørch, who is in charge of safety and security at Hjørring municipality, highly praised the school leaders.
'This year we use 44 schools, sports halls and other places of accommodation and it is clear that security has moved up on the list of issues that are to be taken care of, so we've never been so ready for the tournament before,' Jan Mørch stressed.
'Previously, perhaps breakfast and burgers were higher on the list, but we can see that security now has first priority and, naturally, we are very pleased. Smoke alarms and information boards with instructions relating to fire are all there.
'Nevertheless, now we need to focus even more. One thing is making sure that everything is ready before the tournament. Another thing is now that the players have arrived with their sleeping bags, quilts and sport bags. Now they mess about in the classrooms. Both they and the staff at the schools get tired, and you might unknowingly loose focus, so it's important to stay focused,' Jan Mørch pointed out.
'Moreover, it is a good idea to tell managers and players that e-cigarettes can easily set off a smoke detector. If that happens and the fire department discovers a false alarm, we'll send a 5,510 DKK bill. Most likely, the club, which is responsible for the school, will have to pay that bill. Additionally, a stray ball might also set off the smoke alarm.
886 Matches Today
When the referees blow the whistle for the last time today, 886 matches will have been played on the first day of this year's Dana Cup.
'Tomorrow, 887 matches will be played and the same on Thursday. However, already on Friday the number of games will drop to 217 while Saturday ends with 19 finals,' explained Ole Vang Bruun, who is in charge of the planning of the tournament.
'With so many teams we do not accept delays. We only have a few spare fields, so if matches are delayed and, thus, move the entire playing program, we will generally not accept them,' stressed Ole Vang Bruun, who also drew attention to the Fair Play competition, which for several years has been part of Dana Cup.
Here, referees and school staff can make note of teams who have made themselves noticed in either a negative or positive manner, both on and off the pitch. At the finals on Saturday the club that has made the most positive impression is handed the Fair Play trophy.
Trip Home Already Planned
While the teams currently play the first matches at this year's Dana Cup, the tournament's department of transport is already busy putting together the final pieces of the big puzzle that is the transport home of the many thousands of players and managers.
'On Friday we'll send information to the schools about the details of the transport of the teams,' said head of transport, Jørgen Nielsen, at the tournament's first meeting with the schools.
Jørgen Nielsen also mentioned that on Monday 73 buses set off to pick up players and managers in order to take them to the schools.
'Every day 49 buses run on 19 routes from the schools to the centre area and from there to the 70 football fields that we use at this year's Dana Cup. We encourage teams to leave early, so that they are sure to turn up on time for the game,' Jørgen Nielsen stressed.