Game on as schools prepare for Copa Coca-Cola finals
The top ten schools from around the country are heading to Lusaka this week ahead of the COPA Coca-Cola finals to be played in the capital.
The teams are expected to arrive the Thursday (September 14) before the games that are scheduled for Friday, September 15 and Saturday September 16, 2017.
“We are working hard behind the scenes to make this year’s COPA Coca-Cola a success and expecting a serious display of talent as the players and schools expect more of themselves with each year,” said Coca-Cola Marketing Activations Manager for Zambia and Malawi Takunda Jinda.
Over 450 schools participated in the preliminary knockouts July and August, with the best teams from each of the ten provinces in the country qualifying for this year’s tournament finals in Lusaka. The event will see the teams compete over the two days at the Olympic Youth Development Centre (OYDC) on the morning of the Friday with subsequent games, including the finals, being conducted at the National Heroes Stadium.
COPA Coca-Cola is the premier grassroots football tournament, sponsored by Coca-Cola in partnership Zambia Schools Sports Association (ZASSA) and the Ministry of Education. The initiative commenced in 1993 with only 100 schools participating and has now grown to include 450 government and private schools in Zambia.
The tournament also has several professional football players among its alumni including 2012 AFCON winners Christopher Katongo, Stoppila Sunzu and Kennedy Mweene.
“The event has become synonymous with high school football in the country and as Coca-Cola we are proud to be a part of this initiative that has sought out some of the best players around,” added Mr Jinda.
The sponsorship package has grown annually, with the 2017 package going towards prize money, transport and logistics, accommodation and meals for teams and officials, kits and other necessities.
As part of its sustainability commitment to communities, COPA Coca-Cola promotes community based activity while fostering teens’ interest in soccer. The tournament offers youth a chance to meet and interact with peers across the country. The programme also provides opportunities to recognize rising soccer talent among community youth.
COPA Coca-Cola is the largest brand-supported grassroots football tournament in the world, played in over 68 countries by 1.3 million teenage players, with the aim of inspiring young people to be active and healthy through their shared passion for the sport. The tournament originated in Zimbabwe in 1989 with the aim of seeking to support the development of budding grassroots talent and promote active, healthy lifestyles among young people, popularised by Mexico, and was launched in Zambia in 1993 as Secondary Schools Soccer tournament and migrated to COPA to fit in the international structure in 1998.
Across Africa, COPA Coca-Cola is played in 23 other countries that include Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Angola, Mozambique, Malawi, Botswana, Namibia, Rwanda, Congo, Swaziland, Nigeria and South Africa, Lesotho, Madagascar, Mauritius and Burundi.
Outside the continent, COPA Coca-Cola is also played in the Americas, Europe and Asia and is in a total 68 countries over 1.3 million players.
Linda High School from Livingstone in Southern Province lifted the championship cup last year. The line-up for the finals is as follows:
||Eastern Province : Petauke Day School
||Luapula Province : Mansa Secondary School
||Central Province : Chibombo Secondary School
||Southern Province : Monze Boarding School
||Copperbelt Province : Sekela Secondary School
||Muchinga Province : Chinsali Secondary School
||Western Province : Kambule Secondary School
||Northern Province : Ituna Secondary School
||North-Western Province : Chavuma Boarding School
||Lusaka Province : Mwavi Secondary School
Group A consists of 4 teams and group B and C is comprised of three teams. The winners of the 3 groups plus runners up of the 4 teamed group A will qualify for the semifinals.