Young footballers from across the country are gearing up for the COPA Coca-Cola® National Finals taking place from the 23–25 September 2016 in Bloemfontein. The tournament, which will be held at Tempe Stadium, will be the ultimate showcase of young footballing talent. A total of 9 teams from around the country have won the right to represent their province and play it out to be crowned the official 2016 COPA Coca-Cola® Champions.
In addition to the battle to be named national champions, 2016 tournament Ambassador Simba Marumo, along with his team of scouts, were tasked with putting together a COPA Coca-Cola® all-star side dubbed the ‘Which Part Will You Play’ team. Simba set out to identify talented players embodying the unique roles needed to form a successful team and to represent the values COPA Coca-Cola® aims to instill in its young participants. Players were selected at each of the 9 provincial finals and will come together in Bloemfontein, where Simba will take on the role as their coach, and challenge a Bloemfontein Celtic academy side in what is sure to be a match of epic proportions.
Fetsi Mbele, Coca-Cola South Africa Senior Communications Manager, Brand experience, says that the tournament has the power to do even more that just developing young footballers. “Coca-Cola has been involved in grassroots football development in our country for more than 18 years,” says Mbele. “COPA Coca-Cola® not only aims to assist the development of football in our country but it also has the power to instill the values of teamwork, sportsmanship and persistence in its young participants,” he says. “It’s not just your ball skills and fancy footwork that count; it’s the hard work, dedication and commitment that will lead you to victory, both on and off the field.”
"This is the perfect age to shape and instill professionalism, we believe that in two years time these players will be ready to break it to any professional ranks in the country and beyond the borders of South Africa" added Mandla Mazibuko the President of SASFA.
COPA Coca-Cola® is first and foremost about the development of young footballers and has a rich history of developing footballing heroes in South Africa. The tournament has already seen multiple top local stars such as Andile Jali, Happy Jele, Mandla Masango and Excellent Walaza come through its ranks in the past.
COPA Coca-Cola® is the world’s largest grassroots football development programme. With this in mind and over and above battling for the national title, all players participating will have the opportunity to catch the eye of the COPA Coca-Cola® scouts in attendance. Those who shine will stand the chance of being selected to travel to the 2017 COPA Coca-Cola® Global Camp. There they will rub shoulders with their peers from around the globe in a once-in-a-lifetime chance to train and play under some of the best youth coaches in the world.
2016 campaign Ambassador Simba Marumo believes that COPA Coca-Cola is a shining light in the youth football development landscape. “I truly wish all the schools well on their quest to be named COPA Coca-Cola® national champions. I have seen first-hand how gifted all the participating teams are. It also gives me great joy to take charge of the Which Part Will You Play all-stars. I believe the team is solid and will not only play with flair but also sportsmanship,” said Marumo.