Today marks the 10th anniversary of nurturing youthful football talent across the country through the COPA Coca-Cola 2018 Under-16 tournament. Since the inaugural COPA Coca-Cola tournament in the year 2008, tens of thousands of students have graduated from the tourney while catering for the much-needed extra-curricular activities in the secondary schools system.
The anniversary coincides with the launch of this years’ COPA Coca-Cola tournament. As we forge ahead, the renewal of the partnership with the Kenya Secondary Schools Sports Association (KSSSA) to manage the tourney is therefore a key ingredient in nurturing sporting talent in the country.
Speaking during the launch of this years’ tournament held at Upper Hill High School, Rodney Nzioka, Senior Franchise Brand Manager said: “Coca-Cola is glad to be offering students a stepping-stone to realize their sporting potential and achieve their dreams at a tender age where their future can be shaped forever. In addition to the youth initiative, we invested in the FIFA World Cup Trophy Tour where we visited more than 50 countries including Kenya to bring the World Cup experience closer to the people.
A total of 5,000 boys and girls schools are expected to participate in the tourney signifying a 25% increase from last years’ games. The total number of games to be played throughout the tournament will be 3,670 games.
“The competitive and professionally managed games conducted in partnership with KSSSA, have been the beginning of successful careers of notable players such as Peter Odhiambo (Gor Mahia FC), Daniel Mwaura (Mathare United fc), Robinson Kamura (AFC Leopards) and Harun Nyakha (Wazito FC),” said Rodney.
“This attests to the importance of consistently scouting soccer talent in the country. A team of experienced coaches will select exemplary students who will join their counterparts from across the world to learn from the worlds decorated stars to learn new skills,” he added.
The renewed three-year contract worth Kshs 21.5 Million sponsorship, covering 2018 to 2020, which will go towards full kitting of schools in the Sub-zonal, Zonal, Sub-County, County, Regional and National championships, purchase of trophies and medals for all games, as well as run the seamless administration of the tournament.
The Under-16 students will compete to grace the national championship to be staged in Eldoret between 20th July 2018 and 29th July 2018. At stake is the supremacy tug-of-war to dethrone Kakamega High School from Western Region and Olympic Girls High School from Nairobi Region in the boys and girls categories respectively.
Through the years, the company has been taking gifted players for specialized training at the COPA Coca-Cola Global Camp. The inaugural trip was a tour in Rio de Janeiro in Brazil with subsequent tours being in Johannesburg and Durban in South Africa, London-United Kingdom, and Paris-France.
The Kenyan national team, The Harambee Stars, have greatly benefitted from past COPA Coca-Cola graduates such as Victor Wanyama, Dennis Oliech, Michael Olunga, whom over the years have performed exemplary well for the country with pride.