Hot off the heels of yet another successful edition of the COPA Coca-Cola Under-15 tournament in 2016, the international youth soccer tournament has decided to delve deeper in its search of seeking grassroots football talent.
For the first time in COPA history, COPA Coca-Cola introduces the new pilot tournament that will see an increase in participation by schools from 714 to 1022. This demonstrates an extensive search undertaken, seeking grassroots football talent.
COPA Coca-Cola, with a rich history of developing football heroes, is introducing a District phase into the tournament that will also be played in a well- trusted league format. COPA Coca-Cola will provide a full Coke experience for the players through activations and hydration.
The schools will continue to play on Wednesdays and closer to their regional playoff dates, the top schools in the districts will qualify for the regional-leg. Post the regional playoffs, winners secure a spot in the Provincial Finals, which then culminates in National Finals where the last team standing is crowned the champions.
Phindile Phiri, Coca-Cola South Africa’s Marketing Assets Manager said, “In 2017, we really wanted to grow the programme and reach more young people that are as passionate about football as we are. With the introduction of the District phase, Coca-Cola can further reach the grassroots level in the clusters, in turn develop more teams and players than we have ever done before. At the end of the tournament, 176 new schools would have been engaged in South Africa as compared to the number in 2016. Coca-Cola is proud to support the development of football in South Africa and we want more teenagers across the country to participate.”
Coca-Cola’s investment in South Africa’s grassroots football structures has been showcased through the rise to football stardom of players such as Bafana Bafana and Belgium-based star midfielder Andile Jali, Orlando Pirates’ defender Happy Jele, Mandla Masango of SuperSport United and former SA U-20 and Orlando Pirates striker Excellent Walaza and more recently, Notha Ngcobo who recently joined Mamelodi Sundowns.
During this District phase, Coca-Cola will be activating in three provinces namely the Free State, with the cluster being Botshabelo, the Nkangala cluster in Mpumalanga and the Ngaka Modiri Molema cluster in the North West province. “With the start of the season, we made our way to the Botshabelo cluster, where we saw great enthusiasm and some impressive performances from local teams and young players. We look forward to our next stop being Nkangala District in Mpumalanga on April 22,” adds Phiri.
J.G Zuma Secondary School from Inanda in KwaZulu Natal, winners of the COPA Coca-Cola in 2016, will look to defend their title as Coca Cola’s global celebration of soccer passion continues with the ultimate showcase of young footballing talent during the 2017 edition of the tournament.
The tournament in 2017 will see the continuation of the successful Which Part Will You Play initiative. The project sees a Which Part Will You Play all-stars team made up of well-rounded young South Africans with immense talent carrying values young footballers should aspire to. This team will be selected by a COPA Coca-Cola judging panel, headed by Simba Marumo the ambassador of the COPA Coca-Cola Which Part Will You Play search.
With over 1.3 million teenagers from more than 60 countries taking part, COPA Coca-Cola is recognised globally as the leading grassroots football programme in the world.
Youngsters are urged to support their teams or follow the action on social media using #COPACocaCola.