By Solomon Nwoke
AT least, not less than 110,000 participants from 5,000 schools across the country will participate in this year’s COPA Coca-Cola Secondary School Football Tournament making it’s 9th edition.
The COPA Coca-Cola football tournament meant for the U-15s unites more than one million teenagers in over 60 countries around the world, promoting an active lifestyle and encouraging values that are the foundation of life and sportsmanship; giving the teens an opportunity to pursue their football dream, and in the process come together to make new friends and learn what it takes to be part of a team. Apart from friendship, it inculcates team spirit and respect among the teenagers.
Speaking yesterday in Lagos, the Marketing Manager of the Nigeria Bottling Company (NBC), Cletus Onyebuoha pointed out that the competition has contributed immensely to the success of some of the participants, who are currently pursuing careers as professionals. He said, the Copa Coca-Cola Tournament is more than a game.
Onyebuoha said this year’s edition of the tournament kicks off on April 24 and runs through May and mid June has a lot to offer to its teeming follower adding that, “the winning teams in 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) will receive a trophy and makeover of a football pitch of their choice worth N5 million.
“ An Education Trust Fund worth N500,000 will be given to the national winner to ensure that they combined their education with sports. Also this year, the competition has been divided into three stages, the grassroots, group and the final”.
Continuing, Onyebuoha stressed that at the grassroots, interested schools in each 36 states and FCT will have to compete for a chance to represent their states at the group stage and the national.
Also speaking at the Media briefing heralding the event, President of the Nigeria School Sports Federation (NSSF), Malam Ibrahim Mohammed, warned that organisers would not condole any act of age-cheat from any participating schools while urging competing schools to ensure that they present eligible players.