This year’s Copa Coca-Cola winning teams from 12 countries across the continent will converge in Nakuru for the inaugural Under-16 Africa Cup of Nations tournament starting on Monday.
The tournament which ends on December 15, has been described as the ‘New Dawn’ in the annual tournament that is being run on the model of the prestigious Africa Cup of Nations. Coca-Cola, Kenya, senior franchise brand manager, Rodney Nzioka, said the event goes to emphasise the company’s commitment in promoting sporting talent in the continent. “Since its inception in Zimbabwe in 1989, the Copa Coca-Cola journey has been exceptional, traversing continents to emerge as a global phenomenon. Once again, Africa will be leading in initiating a youth tournament to showcase grassroot football talents.”
The participating teams will be drawn from Angola, Malawi, Nigeria, Uganda, Tanzania, Mozambique, Ethiopia, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, South Africa and hosts Kenya.
Nzioka said the need to stage the continental showpiece was informed by a vision to grow the tournament from a country level into an international.
“ We wan to allow young people to not only play with their counterparts but have the chance to be scouted by scouts from all over the world,” he added.
“We are delighted to be associated with this platform to harness and nurture talent and at the same time give them an avenue to prosper. We are grateful to parents for giving us a chance to develop the next generation of great football stars. At Coca-Cola, we are committed to the success of the tournament and we are looking forward to a great display of talent,” he said.
Ahmed Rady, the Coca-Cola company franchise general manager, East Africa, said the company noticed the passion in people that is generated by football hence the reason they came up with a tournament that will lead to a rise of football standards in the continent.
“As the host of the tournament, Coca-Cola in Kenya has partnered with Kenya Secondary Schools Sports Association (KSSSA) to manage the tourney. Their support and involvement has been key to ensuring the success of the tournament. We encourage our media partners, coaches and scouts to walk with us in this journey of unearthing the untapped talent. It is also our hope, that the talented teens can be drafted for call-ups to every respective national youth teams set-ups,” concluded Rady.