The Danone Nations Cup: “Playing with the world”


Next week, the 13th World Final of the DNC will see children from 40 different countries gather in Warsaw. The event will involve competing for the title, of course, but also sharing common values and, in certain ways, growing healthier and wiser.


Zinédine Zidane is on a football field, handling a ball. He dribbles and then takes a powerful shot. It flies through the air, across the globe, and lands at the feet of South African boys, who kick it back to Egypt, where young players are waiting to send it all the way to Korea. From foot to foot, the ball travels to Algeria, Ireland, the United States, France, Japan, China, Brazil, etc. In the end it goes back to Zizou, the ambassador of the Danone Nations Cup, who just spent the last three minutes and 45 seconds “playing with the world”. This video introducing the DNC’s worldwide ambassador highlights the spirit that drives the event: bringing together children from all over the world to enjoy a sports competition and share all the values behind it while keeping one goal in mind:

Believe in your dreams.

Next week on 9th September in Warsaw, Poland, the DNC will hold its 13th World Final. It is the perfect occasion for Down to Earth to reflect back on the history of this unique event and show you how it is in line with our thinking on the social impact of Danone’s actions.


A world-wide competition


Just after the 1998 Fifa World Cup, Danone realized how much football thrills young children all over the world and came up with the idea of an international football competition especially designed for these children. The Danone Nations Cup was officially born in 2000, bringing together 35,000 players and 125,000 spectators in eight different countries. France was the first country to host (and win) the World Final. Since then, the competition has kept growing: in 2001, the number of participating countries had already tripled. In 2003, Zinédine Zidane became its ambassador and brought world-wide fame to the event, and since 2007, the Danone Nations Cup gathers 40 participating countries. This year, the event goes to Poland for its final. The FC Bourgoin Jallieu will try to win the title for France, in a competition that has as much to do with sports as with nutrition, health and camaraderie.


Broadening horizons


Ever since its first edition, the DNC has been committed to offering children an extraordinary experience that allows them to grow, learn and make friends. As such, it has become a symbol of Danone’s commitment to children. As explained by Paul Le Guen, the ambassador of the French 2011 competition, the DNC

is mainly about bringing two things together: competition and education on nutrition.*

In the French edition, workshops were organized in parallel with the games “to inform the children of the absolute necessity of healthy nutrition when you want to play football. This point was very important to me.” Zinédine Zidane agrees. He explains that he chose to make a commitment with Danone, through the DNC but also through the danone.communities board, because it would allow him to help develop nutrition programs centred on children all over the world. The DNC is a true match for Danone’s ambition of passing on knowledge about how people can achieve health through food, exercise and hydration.

Another mission of the DNC is to convey positive values: transmission and sharing; fair-play and accomplishment through sports; open-mindedness and respect for difference; care for one’s own body and health. For Paul Le Guen, “there is a string of values attached to sports competition: the will to win and ambition are, of course, very important, but respecting other participants is as well.” Zidane says:

When you are 11, football is just a game, a passion that you share wholeheartedly with your friends. My message is simple: this spirit must persist throughout the years.

The fact that the event brings together children who do not speak the same language, or have the same cultural references and lifestyle also allows them to broaden their horizons. Some of them had never left their village before the DNC, let alone their region or country. As Zinédine Zidane puts it,

football brings people together.

Indeed it does, from Uruguay to Bangladesh, from Belgium to Senegal. Let’s see this spirit in action next week in Warsaw!

You can watch below the DNC 2012 official annoucement video with a speech form Zinedine Zidane!

* Paul le Guen answered our questions in an interview in April 2012, you can read the article here.