“GIVING YOUTH GRASS-ROOTS FOOTBALL”
By: Nhlanhla Ndlovu
Nine qualified schools are waiting to be crowned the champions of the COPA Coca-Cola under 15 tournament to be played at the King Zwelithini Stadium.
After hundreds of preliminary matches in all nine provinces, the three-day final tournament is set to take centre stage.
Marketing Assets Manager of Coca Cola South Africa, Fetsi Mbele, said the tournament is a platform for young men to realise their dreams and play football.
“The COPA Coca-Cola is synonymous with unearthing talent and providing South African football with future stars,” he said. “It’s about giving the youth a grass-roots football programme.”
The tournament is scheduled for the 17-19 October, with 5 780 youngsters from 340 schools having participated this year.
“We are confident that this year’s participants will need no extra motivation to compete at their best for the duration of the tournament,” Mbele said. “The tournament is really growing. We are looking forward to 2015.”
President of the South African Schools Football Association (SASFA), Mandla Mazibuko, said their aim is to assist in the Minister of Sports’ vision 2030, which was announced by South African Football Association (SAFA) president Danny Jordan.
The new-look Bafana Bafana features graduates of the tournament Andile Jali, Happy Jele, Senzo Meyiwa, Mandla Masango, Bongani Ndulula, Thabang Matuka and the 17-year-old Rivaldo Coetzee.
“When you look at the current Bafana Bafana, we are very proud that half that team has played in this tournament.
He also congratulated the schools that made it to the final stages to represent their respective provinces.
“The teams will carry the pride and hopes of their provinces during this annual football extravaganza,” Mazibuko said. “I have no doubt the national finals will be fiercely contested.”
One of the participants from Clapham High School, Khulekani Kubheka, said it is a good tournament that gives a chance to upcoming young players in the country.
“A lot of schools get the opportunity and the platform to showcase their talent. It gives a lot of young players the opportunity as well to showcase their talent,” said the 15-year-old who is chasing his dream of playing overseas.
Other than Clapham from Gauteng, the other inland sides are Benny’s Care Academy (Limpopo), Thlavekisa Secondary (Mpumalanga), HTS Louis Botha (Free State) and Tshedimosetso Secondary (North West)
Coastland sides aappearing will be Silindokuhle Secondary (KwaZulu-Natal), Sikhulile Senior Secondary (Eastern Cape), Robinvale Secondary (Western Cape) and Hoerskool SA Van Wyk (Nothern Cape).
The winning school will walk away with R60 000 and the honour of being named the champions, whereas the runners-up and third place sides will receive R30 000 and R25 000 respectively.