Ricky Zililo, Senior Sports Reporter
ORGANISERS of the annual Copa Coca-Cola schools soccer tournament will hold a workshop in Kwekwe this morning to update the media on changes made to the 28-year-old competition.
The major change which will be effected at this year’s Copa Coca-Cola edition which kicks off next month is synchronising the boys’ category to Under-15, an age group recognised by Fifa.
In the past editions of the tournament, seen as the leading grassroots development competition in the country, the boys battled it out for top honours in the Under-16 age group.
Coca-Cola Zimbabwe market activation manager Vee Chibanda hopes today’s workshop will bring in new ideas to keep the tournament as the prime hunting ground for young talent.
“We believe the workshop will help us re-affirm our status as the leading country in the development of young talent. We are the pioneers of the Copa Coca-Cola soccer tournament having started holding the contest in 1989. As such, in an effort to find ways of breathing new life into the whole tournament, we are going to hold an all-stakeholders workshop,” Chibanda said.
Commenting on the boys’ age group shift, the National Association of Secondary Heads (Nash) head-in-charge of football Albert Mucheka said: “The change from Under-16 to Under-15 was to align the age group with Fifa recognised age groups. Fifa recognise the Under-15, Under-17 and Under-20 age groups. Also the sponsor wants to develop the age group to ‘catch them young’. Again it was an age group that we used to have before the Under-16 came in.”
The development means only athletes born after January 1, 2003, will be allowed to compete at this year’s edition.
There are no changes to the girls’ Under-17 competition, which was introduced in 2009.