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Tuesday, March 8, 2011

It's Bigger, It's Better, It's Action-Packed, It is The Copa Cocacola

The premier U-17 grassroots youth football league, COPA Coca-Cola has kicked off its 2011 edition in a tournament that promises to increase value to all participating players.

The tournament has undergone some key changes in its format and will be carried out in an advanced professional structure.  “We are giving this year’s teams the opportunity to take part in the tournament over a longer period of time , enabling them to hone their skills and push their performance during the competition,” said Catherine Mudachi, the Senior Marketing Brand Manager – Kenya for  Coca-Cola East and Central Africa.  

The games continue to be open to both school and community teams. Each county will have an opportunity to present eight boys’ and four girls’ teams to take part in the games. “Each team will have a chance to play three games before qualifying for or being eliminated from the next round. The best teams will then move forward through a series of regional games all the way to the National Finals which will be held in Kisumu in July.

According to Gerald Chege of the Kenyan Premier League (KPL), the administrators of the tournament, the new model will consolidate the gains COPA Coca-Cola has made in the last few years.

“COPA Coca-Cola’s new structure brings much needed depth to Kenya’s junior football competitions.  The knock-out structure often eliminates teams that would have performed very well in the tournament, had they had a couple more opportunities to bounce back after their first failures,” he said.  “Now teams have three chances to show what they are made off, exposing them to talent scouts throughout the tournament,” he added.

In line with the company’s continued commitment to providing Kenyan players with best-in-class international exposure, Coca-Cola is planning for an international soccer camp with one of the world’s most prestigious football clubs.  “This year is no exception and we will communicate this partnership in due course,” Mudachi explained.

The formation of the COPA Coca-Cola dream team, a selection of the best players from the tournament, has also been set aside for a structure that is friendly to teams that have always played together.

“This year, the best teams will play all through the tournament to the international camp.  That sense of cohesiveness should be a force to reckon with when to the  tournament progresses to the international stages,” she explained.

There is also a stronger focus on the fans in 2011 given that football is a perfect opportunity for fans to bond with their friends.  “We will provide opportunities for this throughout the tournament as our experience with the FIFA World Cup ® showed that match viewing events created the excitement and atmosphere that makes football the world’s most favourite sport,” Mudachi said.

Since its re-launch in Kenya three years ago, COPA Coca-Cola has created opportunities for a host of upcoming footballers to reach for the stars and play in both the Kenya Premier League as well as junior international football tournaments.

Some of the players discovered through COPA Coca-Cola include Steven Odhiambo (Thika United), Emmanuel Tostao (AFC Leopards), Edwin Mwaura ( Rangers), Jackson Macharia ( Thika United), Edward Seda  (AFC Leopards), Joseph Kuria (Thika United), Dan Waweru (Western Stima), Felix Omondi (Gor Mahia) and Ali Ahmed (Western Stima). A notable winners from previous years is Macdonald Mariga (Inter-Milan), the COPA Coca-Cola goodwill ambassador, who was first discover in 1999 while playing during a Coca-Cola sponsored tournament dubbed The Coca-Cola Cup.

The COPA Coca-Cola 2011 edition also has an array of prizes with the winning boys team at the national finals taking home a cash prize of Kshs. 500,000, while the girls team will walk away with Kshs. 200,000. Other prizes include: Kshs. 200,000 for the second runner up in the boys competition followed by the third runner up with Kshs. 100,000. The top scorer, Best Goal Keeper and Man of the Match will all be awarded Kshs.20,000 each. In the girls’ games, the second runner up will be given Kshs. 100,000 while the Best Cheering Fan will walk home with Kshs. 20,000.

This year’s tournament will culminate in a COPA reality TV show which will capture the dreams, talents, challenges, performance of key select players at the COPA tournament, leadership skills resilience and all that goes on in the 5 months of the activation.

The tournament kicks off this Saturday with games being played in 8 counties across the country including Garissa county where games will be in Daadab and Nakuru county in  Naivasha.  Trans Nzoia will host theirs at Friends Kwanza Secondary schools while Kericho county will play at Kapkatet.

Kakamega goes to Mumias while Tana River will have their games in Garsen.  Laikipia heads to the Kinamba Center while in Migori county will excite in Kehancha. The games will thereafter be played every weekend with the National finals scheduled to take place on in July. 

And That's thesteifmastertake!!