By FOCUS REPORTER
ON the surface footballers, Mandla Masango, Happy Jele and Andile Jali might not seem to have much in common – particularly considering that they play for competing rival teams, Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates,but there is a much deeper connection than the teams that they play for they started their careers by competing in Copa Coca-Cola Tournament.
Yet another season of high-quality, highly competitive soccer to find the
country’s next big names in the game is in full swing.
The Copa Coca-Cola tournament is all about finding the best Under-18 school team, as well as the most promising Under-18 talent in the country by playing it out with level-by-level knock-outs.
In some areas, the regional finals are now over and it is time to move onto
the next level. Gauteng, Northern Cape and Mpumalanga will be the first provinces to find their representative teams on 5 March 2011. The winners of the provincial finals will go on to play in the national finals from March 30-April 2.
Kimberley’s Galeshewe Stadium will host the Northern Cape regional finals
for a clash between Rietvale High School from Francis Baard Region, Kakamas
High School from Siyanda Region, Langberg High School from John Taole Region and Orion High School from Pixley ka Seme Region.
Mpumalanga knock-outs will be staged at Magudulela Stadium in Piet Retief.
Teams vying for a place in the national finals are; Fredie Sithole High
School from Dwarsloop Region, Ithafa High School from Gert Sibanda Region,
Sozama High School from Nkangala and Tikhontele Secondary from Ehlanzeni
In Gauteng, Rosina Sedibane Secondary School from Lodium, Seanamarela High
School from Mapetla, Motlhodi High School from Sharpville, Transnet School
Of Excellence from Elandsfontein, Ntiesetsang High School from Alberton,
Buhlebemfundo High School from Ekurhuleni and Jet Nteo High School from
Boipatong will be battling out at KwaThema Sports Ground in Springs on
Saturday, 5th March. Games will commence at 9:00 at all three venues.
There will be an added attraction in Springs with the appearance of former Leeds and Bafana Bafana player, Lucas Radebe, who is also Copa Coca-Cola
The tournament will become very fierce after the provincial finals, when
each province will have a representative team playing it out for the top
spot. But it’s not all about being competitive; there are a number of
lessons to be learned about the world of professional football. Living under the public eye, balancing work and family life, and looking after one’s body are some of the issues that these young competitors will be exposed to as the competition progresses.
“It’s all about youth development – about balancing the pressures of
professional sport with an active and meaningful lifestyle,” explains Sandya Leckram, Senior Brand Manager of Coca-Cola South Africa. “The teams that compete learn that there is much more to being a professional footballer than simply kicking the ball around really well, and those who adapt the best to this lifestyle and these challenges will undoubtedly catch the eye of talent scouts.”
The tournament gives high school players a legitimate opportunity to become
professional football players. Copa Coca-Cola also forms part of SASFA’s
talent identification programme and therefore scouts will be there searching for ‘rough diamonds’. It is SASFA’s responsibility to entrench the beautiful game into the hearts and minds of young South Africans through Copa Coca-Cola.
Some staggering statistics about the Copa Coca-Cola Tournament: over 60 000
youngster from approximately 3000 schools are expected to participate in
this year’s event. Any school that makes it to the national final will win
school equipment to the value of R40 000 for their school – third place
receives R60 000, second place R100 000, while the 2011 Champions will walk
away with R150 000 worth of school equipment – plus the attention of the
talent scouts that have the power to make dreams of a career in soccer a