Kenya’s official Under-17 youth football team will be selected from this year’s COPA Coca-Cola tournament that kicks off this weekend.
Football Kenya Federation (FKF) Chairman, Sam Nyamweya announced this during the launch of this year’s tournament, the 5th edition, at Coca-Cola offices. The premier U-17 youth football tourney will pass through four stages and see over 600 teams take part in the competition. The tournament will commence with the teams, both boys’ and girls’, competing at the sub-branch level, with each sub-branch being presented by 2 girls and 6 boys’ teams in all the 8 provinces.
A total of 130 teams will then proceed to the branch level stage to be held over three weeks from June 2nd, with the winners qualifying for the provincial finals that start on June 23 until July 14. The national finals will be held in Mombasa in August.
According to COPA administrator Gerald Chege, the new model will follow the FKF league calendar, become the official district (FKF sub branch) league tournament while tapping and developing young prospects to become the country’s official U-17 team.
Talent scouts will follow through and identify 30 best performing players right from the sub-branch level. Out of this, the top 16 players will be selected and form the Kenyan contingent that will travel to South Africa for a two-week international camp. The 16 players will also officially form the Kenya U-17 soccer team.
A total cash prize of Shs.1.6 million will be up for grabs The winning boys’ team at the national finals will be awarded Ksh. 600,00, runners up 300,000 while the second runners up will walk home with 100,000 Kshs. The winning girls’ team will pocket Ksh. 300,000, Ksh. 200,000 for the runners up while the third placed girls’ team will be awarded Ksh. 100,000.
“COPA has grown in leaps and bounds since being unveiled in Kenya over five years ago. As part of our commitment in maintaining a world class football tournament, we have increased our investment in the tournament to make it even more attractive as we help young boys and girls develop a bright future in football while inspiring others to maintain active healthy lifestyles,” said Coca-Cola Senior Brand Marketing Manager Catherine Mudachi.
Since its re-launch in 2007, COPA has created opportunities for a host of upcoming footballers to realize their potential and play in both the local professional leagues as well as junior international football tournaments. Harambee Stars and Parma midfielder MacDonald Mariga, AFC Leopards striker Emmanuel Tostao, Steven Odhiambo of Thika United and Victor Oduor of Muhoroni Youth are some of the players who have excelled after being discovered in COPA.
Matches this weekend will take place in Nairobi, Trans-Nzoia, Kericho, Kisii, Mombasa and Laikipia.
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