Junior Cup

The Junior Cup Diabetes is an annual soccer championship for kids with diabetes and hosted by me, Lenny the Lion. The goal of Junior Cup Diabetes is to help teach that diabetes shouldn’t limit your ability to maintain a healthy and active life.

This year 150 kids from 12 countries (this year the US will not participate in Junior Cup Diabetes) will compete to be the new World Champion and get the chance to meet the soccer World Champion (1998) Christian Karembeu and other sports legends like Bas van de Goor (Olympic gold medal Dutch volleyball team 1996). It’s a unique opportunity to share experience with friends while having fun playing soccer!

More information about the Junior Cup Diabetes.

Junior Cup 2010 and 2011

I travelled to Switzerland to meet the teams and hang out with all the kids at this past year’s Junior Cup. Everyone had a great time and the kids and parents made new friends from all over the world. Check out some of the highlights.

2011 Photos

2010 Highlights

2010 Photo Slideshow

2010 Team Interview

2010 Team Member Journals

Samantha Knox German Lomeli Shianne Pappas Joseph Valadez Jack Rowan Allison Kasper


Samantha Knox

August 18, 2010

Today we left LAX. Right now we (the team) are on our way to New York for our first stop! From there we will travel to Paris, then to Geneva! Taking off is a whole new experience. It’s just like a rush of adrenaline! I cannot wait to arrive! All I see is green outside and lots of clouds.

2 hours later

Right now we are flying over Cedar Falls, Iowa. I’m excited to play in Switzerland. We have about 2 more hours left until we land in New York.

August 20, 2010

Today Shi, her dad Paul, my family and I went into Geneva, and explored. It was pretty cool. The opening ceremonies were awesome. After we got introductions and raffles done we danced to Shakira’s FIFA Africa, and Lady Gaga’s Poker Face. I had a lot of fun today. Tomorrow games begin, so goodnight!

August 21, 2010

Today was the first game day. USA played against Great Britain, who won and Poland who won by one point! I had fun. We have more games tomorrow. We still have a chance! Good night! Oh! I also did an interview for newly diagnosed kids!

August 22, 2010

I had a great time today! Our first game today was against Sweden. We lost by one point! Our second game was Hungary. We won! We got 15th place, that’s ok though because we got the good Sportsmanship teamwork cup! It was USA’s first time too! Great Britain got the cup, but they were cool people! Goodnight!

August 23, 2010

My family and I are staying 2 more days. Today is my parents' anniversary. We went to the United Nations. It was awesome! I had a lot of fun today!

It’s our last day here! We walked around Geneva! We saw the spout! Walked through it, walked through some steep streets, ate some really good food and had fun! Watch out for wasps that are hungry! Bye!


German Lomeli

August 18, 2010

Got up at 6:30, bathroom, breakfast. At 9:30 the airport shuttle arrived pick up my mom and me. We were the first ones at the airport from our team. I checked my blood glucose level before breakfast, then injected insulin; I checked with my mom that she packed all my diabetes supplies & gluten free snacks on our carry-on. I was relieved that bg level was ok. … to start the day with finger pricking and shots is not nice! I am very excited, yet nervous about the long flight.

Everyone from our team arrived. While we waited to board the plane we played cards. Had lunch. Tested my bg level again and injected insulin. Had to inject more insulin because my bg was high, maybe because I am not moving much. Always counting carbs is annoying; also, not being able to eat wheat! Jack and his family are eating pizza, yum.

The flight left L.A. on time at 1:30 p.m. The plane has music or movies to watch. I could also see the plane’s route. That’s’cool! We arrived on time to get another plane from NY City to Paris. I tested my bg level again and had a gluten free snack. When having Diabetes one has to think of a lot of things. That’s often annoying. I felt totally drained. Maybe I injected too much at noon?

August 19, 2010

Woohoo! Finally, we are here in Geneva! We went to the hotel and got a nice room. I played with my new friends before dinner. We had dinner at 8:00 p.m., and I had to check my bg level twice because there was an error. I had my insulin injection. The restaurant has gluten free bread, awesome! The lake from the plane looked so big and beautiful! It was very nice that Ms. Anushka was at the airport to greet us. The hotel has a jungle gym and swings, cool!

One last check before bed time. What a stupid thing that the carry case for all that diabetes stuff is too small. 10:00 pm went to bed.

August 20, 2010

Got up at 7:30. I had breakfast at the hotel’s restaurant with all my teammates and their parents. We went to visit Geneva. I checked my bg and had my insulin injection before breakfast. The train ride was amazing and a lot of fun! Geneva is a beautiful city with old buildings.

We visited the famous flower clock in Jardin Anglais, fountain Jet d’ Eau, and Old Town. I checked my bg and had a snack. I am feeling a little jet lag. It started raining. Good thing we had an umbrella. Everywhere I look it’s breathtaking! We had lunch in a park. We had to hurry up to catch the train to the airport to catch the shuttle back to the hotel. I checked my bg and had my insulin injection before lunch. My mom packed a sack lunch and extra snacks since we were away from the hotel. I love my mom!

Dinner at Hotel Chavannes with all 18 other country players and their families. Opening ceremony 9 p.m.

August 21, 2010

After breakfast we left to the stadium. Beginning of the tournament! I was so tired that I begged my mom not to go to the workshop.

Left for dinner. We got on a boat cruise.

August 22, 2010

After breakfast, we left for the stadium. End of tournament and closing ceremony. Got my packing done. Sad that we are leaving so soon.


Shianne Pappas

My favorite part of the trip was that I got to play in Switzerland and got to go out of the country. I also loved that I made lots of new friends and got to be there with my Dad. I learned how to take better care of my diabetes while playing soccer. It was really fun going on Lake Geneva and seeing Lenny the Lion on the lake while riding in a boat. The flights were long, but definitely worth it! I really hope to go again next year! Out of everything that happened in that 6 day time period, the most I loved about the trip was that I hung out with a lot of other type 1 diabetics, and got to make life-long friends.

Thank you so much.


The Parents Joseph Valadez

When we were notified that Joseph had made the Junior-Cup team, we couldn’t believe it. The opportunity to represent the USA and meet other diabetes families in other parts of the world was incredible! We will always be grateful for this wonderful experience. We even received USA jerseys for our travel.

You could feel the excitement in the airport. Some people asked questions about the team and became very excited for us. We managed to make it from flight to flight with just one little hitch. One of the Delta flights was really a French flight. Our tickets were a little confusing. We managed to find a somewhat English speaker to explain this to us. We made it to the gate with 15 minutes to spare. The rest was smooth.

On one of the flights, an attendant made an announcement regarding our team, and the other passengers applauded. The kids bonded quickly and immediately started discussing their diabetes regimens as they checked their BG’s together. There was a very high level of comfort. We were met at the Switzerland airport by smiling and happy Anushka. She is such a nice lady. Our bus ride to the hotel was fun. There was so much green out there. We saw a lot of fields, foreign vehicles, and signs in French. Upon reaching the hotel, the children were surprised with a duffel bag containing a name badge and soccer uniform. The kids were very excited about his. This was no longer a dream.

We had arrived a day early due to the time difference, so we had a little time to explore Geneva. We took the hotel shuttle to the airport, where we took the train to Geneva. It was raining, we didn’t know where we were going, and we had a blast! We returned in time to change and enjoy dinner. Hanging out after dinner and talking about our children and diabetes was very relaxing. From far away, we looked like a big group of people just chatting. Up close, it was a lot of diabetes talk. We also talked about other things, like how long our children had been playing soccer. We were too excited to sleep.

The next day, we saw other countries arriving. We didn’t have to speak each other’s language to express our excitement. The smiles on our faces said it all. The dinner was amazing! There were so many countries represented, and everyone was smiling. We even shared a table with some of the Poland team! The opening ceremony was fabulous! The Africa World Cup theme was used, and it was incredible. The music, the dancing, the fireworks! We’ll never forget this experience. Compared to other countries there weren’t many of us, but we were loud enough to make our presence known. The jugglers and dancers provided excellent entertainment. The speech by the parent of a child with diabetes made a great impact. It was as if he was talking ot each of us individually.

We tried to sleep after the ceremony, but it was difficult. We also had the excitement of the next day’s tournament on our minds. We didn’t place at the tournament, and it didn’t matter. We had fun. The children did their best, and they were good sports.


Jack Rowan

Wednesday August 18, 2010 - My dad dropped us off super early at LAX for International check-in. I was wearing our cool adidas travel uniform and everyone was looking and checking it out. We had no problems checking in - it was easy since we checked in online from home and then only had small rolling bags to check. We met Herman and his mom, who got there even earlier, and we all went through Security together, and with Allison and her mom. The security check took a long time and they went through all my (diabetes) kit, but it was all ok since we had my doctor’s letter. We still got to our gate very early and Joseph and his mom and grandma were already there! We had fun watching and waiting for everyone else to come. My sister and I ate some tasty Wolfgang Puck pizza before we got on the plane, since it was a long five hour flight to New York.

When we got to JFK, we all tried to stay together but it was hard for everyone to find the International area and our flight to Paris. We had to run, and then go through another security check again! We had just a few minutes to grab some food before our next flight boarded. We ate Jamaican meat patties that were really great! We got on our flight and slept most of the way to Paris. I liked having the break in New York and having to run between flights, since it gave us some exercise.

THURSDAY AUGUST 19, 2010 - Since we flew overnight, I felt funny when we got to Paris and it was already the next day. It was nice and sunny there and the airport really new and bright. But we had to hurry again to catch our next flight. There were some really funny things that happened when we tried to go through customs there – the guys kept closing their booths when they saw us coming! No one spoke English (they said, but then we heard them listening to American radio) and nobody in our group spoke French, so everyone was confused, especially about the other kids’ pumps and Shi even had to take hers off. All our doctor’s letters were in English so that didn’t help the French security people (next year we should get them in French too.) My mom just threw away all our juices and snacks and then had to buy more when we got through security. But the food inside was really healthy and fresh. We had great bread and quiche and my mom had lots of coffee she loved. The next flight from Paris to Geneva was quick! We had no problems going through customs there. When we came out, Anushka was right there to meet us. She showed us right where to go outside and we got on this really nice bus that took us straight to our hotel. We got our really nice Puma uniforms and a gear bag to carry all our stuff in. The hotel got us right into our rooms and we changed into our bathing suits and went right into the pool to cool off.

Afterwards, we had time to shower. We met everyone downstairs for a really nice dinner with our whole team. My steak was great and the French fries nice and crispy. And more good bread. The hotel had great food!! Then my mom made us go to bed early but we were so tired we didn’t even watch tv.

FRIDAY AUGUST 20, 2010 - We slept a LONG time that night. Woke up so hungry and went down to the café for a really good breakfast buffet. Lots of bananas and more bread and cereal I hadn’t had before. So funny to see every kid down there doing a blood test at every meal. I had forgot we all had diabetes! Got to sit with Steven, Sam’s little brother and had fun hanging out with him the rest of the trip.

After breakfast we had some free time so we all took the train to downtown. Saw some really nice exotic cars and then had pizza with Nick and his dad. Just walked around and looked at the buildings and people.

We went back to our hotel and swam – met a lot of kids from other places (Slovakia and Czech Republic were there swimming too).

OPENING CEREMONIES were so much fun! They had a nice dinner for all the teams on the grass by the pool. We met ourcoach Lilly and all went to the tennis stadium for the ceremony. Each team got introduced and they played the song “Party in the USA” when they introduced us. The lady drew our Team USA to play Italy (but that changed?). Lenny and a lot of people danced. Then they had a big fireworks show – it felt like a real World Cup!!

We didn’t go to bed until midnight that night since the ceremony lasted late and everyone was dancing around and all excited for the games tomorrow!

SATURDAY AUGUST 21, 2010 - We got up early for another good breakfast. Then had to rush to get on a bus to the fields. When we got there, we had our own locker room with “USA” on the door. That was cool. We changed into our cleats and took the long tunnel onto the field like they do at the Galaxy games at Home Depot Center in LA.

The announcer introduced our Team USA and played our National Anthem when we came out. Everyone else clapped and cheered since this was the first year America had a team there. We were so nervous, but so excited to play!!!

We found out we were now playing Great Britain first! They were the defending champions and looked really really good. They were.

We got beat 20 / 0… that was hard on us. And even though they ran up the score so much, the guys on the other team were really nice to us, especially #7 named Paul. He ended up coming to watch us play and got to meet him more. He said he trained with Scotland’s Pro Team. He was the best player there - AND the nicest.

Our 2nd game we played Poland and lost 5 to 1 – but we all played better since we were getting used to each other. And Nick scored a goal (my mom has it on the Flip!) If we get to go next year, we should have more practices before.

We all met at the pool afterwards and had fun with the other teams there too. The kid Paul from Great Britain came and hung out with us again and we got to know him more. His mom said his dream team is the LA Galaxy. We told her he could come visit us and maybe train with them, since my mom knows a lot of the people there from when she worked at adidas.

That night we got to go on a really nice big boat on Lake Geneva. While we were waiting, Anushka bought us ice cream (Thank You!) and then had more snacks and drinks on board. We went across the Lake and got to see a lot more of it. We then got off and took a bus to a really fun BBQ at a Park on the Lake. We sat with a family from Africa, who had moved to England and the little girl played on their Under 6 team and another family from the Middle East. We talked a lot about the different ways we handle our diabetes, especially when we’re playing soccer and at school. We were so tired that we got on the first bus back to the hotel and went right to bed since we had more games the next day.

SUNDAY AUGUST 22, 2010 - We got up early to eat, then got on the bus to go back to the soccer stadium. We had a game against Sweden that had both girls and boys on it too. I thought we could have beaten them since we scored first (I had my first goal!) but it was so hot and it bothered some of the girls with asthma. They ended up beating us 2 to 1. It was so close! Their coach came over and talked to us and told us he was the head doctor and coach for Sweden’s girls' Olympic team. He told us we played really good but that jet lag was probably getting to us. He said it takes three days for your body to get used to traveling as far as we did, which is why we were just starting to feel so tired. He was really nice, and made us feel better.

We had our 2nd game right away vs. Hungary. They had some nice players too but their goalie got rattled and we were able to score against him and won 4 to 0!!! Nick and I scored again and so did Nikki! She was so happy and we were all so glad we finally won a game! I wish we had more games to play since I think we would have done so much better, now we were warmed up and knew each other’s game. Paul from UK came to watch and gave me some good tips.

We went and ate a good pasta lunch in the cafeteria, then went back to the stadium to watch the finals. It was so exciting! Spain won the kids division. Then we got to watch Paul and his Great Britain juniors team beat France and then Great Britain’s senior team had a really tough game and ended up losing to Slovakia. Those guys were so happy to beat Britain!

It was such a fun day and I was sad it was all over. But during the Closing Ceremonies we were so surprised to find out we won THE SPORTSMANSHIP AWARD. That was really great – and made us proud that even though it was our first year and we weren’t too competitive, at least we were good sports.

All the players asked if we were going to come back next year… I really hope we get to! I think, if we can practice a lot more before we go, we will do a much better job.

At the very end of the Closing Ceremonies, Paul’s Mom asked if she could take a picture of Paul and my sister Jessie. My mom gave her our email and she said she would send us the photo and stay in touch. Paul was really nice to our whole team and I hope he will be able to maybe come stay with us and train here in the US. He has a younger brother too my age, and my mom said he could come visit too. I hope his Mom lets them!

When we got back to the Hotel, all the teams were by the pool and we played soccer on the grass and swam with everyone. It was fun hearing all the different languages and trying to understand what they were saying.

We had our final team dinner that night and the parents did toasts to Anushka and the team. It was a great meal – really big lasagna and pasta which was perfect after two big games. We got to swim that night with a lot of the kids while my mom packed us up, since we were leaving early the next morning.

MONDAY AUGUST 23, 2010 - We got up at 4:30am and got on the bus for the airport at 5:00am. It was still dark. We said goodbye – it was kind of sad. But what an amazing time we all had. - Thank you to Anushka, Erin, and Medtronic. I will never forget this experience and hope we can do it again next year!!!


Allison Kasper

August 18, 2010 - We get to the airport in my Grandpa’s car and haul our luggage into the airport and say our goodbyes. While standing in line, I spot a blue U.S.A. shirt with our flag on the shoulder. It was Jack! At last, we have found our first teammate. My mischievous eyes were looking and looking, when all of a sudden, Herman came up from behind. My eyes danced happily as they came. We walked to the boarding zone and I saw Joseph already over there. We ran over and sat down to wait for the others.

Once everyone was together, a captain from another plane came over to see us and take a picture with us. Then it was time to board the plane. Joseph’s mom told a flight attendant that we were going to Switzerland for the Junior Cup Diabetes Tournament. Then we all sat in our seats for the trip to New York. Once we began to land, the flight attendant announced to everyone on the plane that Team U.S.A. was on board and we were on our way to play in the Junior Cup Diabetes Tournament. The passengers were happy for us and cheered.

We got off the plane and were instantly lost and to make it worse, we lost some of our team. But we figured out where we were going and we found our group before we got on the plane. This next plane ride was long, but hours later we arrived in Paris. We had a little trouble getting through security; they were concerned about our pumps. No they are not bombs!

We finally got to the next flight to Geneva, Switzerland and then took a big bus to our hotel. The hotel rooms were small but nice.

August 19, 2010 - Tonight is the big Opening Ceremony. In the morning, we all got to take the shuttle to the train station and then the train to Geneva where we got to explore for a few hours before returning for the ceremonies. Herman and I went with our moms and we saw lots of beautiful things on our walk, like fountains and a park, and a giant flower clock. Then it was time to go back to the hotel. At dinner, every country was their eating together. It was extremely crowded but lots of fun. We met a little dog named Sweety that was running around the tables. Niki gave him some food and we found out that apparently he did not like Joseph very much. After dinner, everyone was to go to the tennis courts for the big ceremony. We saw dancers, really good trick soccer players, Lenny the Lion and best of all – fireworks! It was super loud with everyone cheering but it was so amazing too!

August 20, 2010 - Today was the first day of the soccer tournament. The first team we played against was Great Britain. Great Britain must play soccer a lot because they beat us 20 to nothing. The next game was much better. The next game we lost 7-1 against Poland. Poland was a good team too, but Great Brittan was the best. The games were over for the day, but we still had more on Sunday. The rest of the day was spent running around with my team, watching other teams play and just enjoying the whole experience.

August 21, 2010 - Today we played 2 games. Our first game was against Sweden. They were a good team and we almost beat them. The score was 2-1. We played really good as a team. Then we played Hungry. They only had 6 players so we pulled a player from the field so the teams would be even. We won! It was really exciting to win a game. We worked really had and played our very best.

At the awards ceremony we found out that we came in 14th out of 15 teams. Not bad for our first year. We received cool medals and then to our surprise, we received a trophy for Team Work and Sportsmanship. We all went home happy.

The Gluten Free Food - I really liked the steak the best and the chocolate mousse. The Gluten Free breads tasted like regular bread and some were better then others. I had Gluten Free pasta at the tournament that was good and also a Gluten Free chocolate cake that I loved.



Additional 2010 Photos

Junior Cup 2009

Junior Cup 2009 was a lot of fun and a team from Great Britain won the senior group championship but everyone had a great time. I got to fly in on a helicopter and meet a lot of great kids living and playing soccer with diabetes. We had a big barbecue and lots of fun events where I could meet a lot of great kids with diabetes who were committed to living a normal life.

Junior Cup 2008

The first Junior Cup was held in 2008 in Switzerland and soccer teams from Italy won the championships. More than 170 kids played in the tournament that had a bunch of events and other sports that kids could try out. They even got to meet a professional soccer player who has diabetes. It was such a good time that I decided we needed to have this tournament every year! Check out the video to see some of the highlights.