NAIROBI, March 23 – After failing to organize the 2015 edition of the annual Copa Under-16 football tournament, Coca-Cola has entered into a three year partnership with the Kenya Secondary School Sports Association (KSSSA) to hold this year’s event.
The tournament will only involve Form One and Form Two students aged below 15 years with the tourney set to be played in the seven KSSSA regions (Metropolitan, Mau, Coast, North Eastern, Aberdares, Lake region and the Nzoia).
Winners from the regions will qualify for the June national finals to be hosted in Embu, where an All Star team will be selected to travel to a yet to be disclosed location for a training boot camp.
In the previous editions, the All Star team travelled to Pretoria, South Africa where football training camps were organized in conjunction with English Premier League side Chelsea FC coaches.
“The Form Ones and Twos have always felt left out as most of them are never given the opportunity to play. Now, together with Coca-Cola, we have opened up an avenue for them to showcase their talents. For us, this is one of the ways we can help to improve the standards of football in the country,” KSSSA Secretary General David Ngugi remarked.
Apart from organising the age grade football tournament, Coca-Cola will sponsor the Term 2A school games which include athletics, handball, netball and racket games to a tune of Sh15million.
“We took time out last year to re-evaluate and come up with a structured way to run the tournament that will cover all regions in the country. This year, we aim at reaching more than 7,000 schools and through KSSSA, we would be able to achieve this,” Coca-Cola Marketing Manager Moni Karingi announced during the launch on Wednesday.
The Copa tournament and KSSSA ball games have produced big names in Kenyan football among them Harambee Stars forward Michael Olunga, Gor Mahia defender Musa Mohammed, Posta Rangers striker Timothy Otieno and Kariobangi Sharks attacker Ovella Ochieng.
Football Kenya Federation Nairobi NEC member Patrick Amimo believes the tournament has come at the right time as it will produce players for the Africa Under-17 Qualifier where Kenya is paired with Malawi in the preliminary round that will be held in June.
“As a federation we have our own mechanisms of selecting our teams but definitely with such platforms, it makes our work easier,” Amimo said.
The tournament kicked off at the grassroots level March 4.