The 2019 Copa Coca-Cola grass roots tournament kicked off on Saturday with a total of 5,400 players registering for the competition that is open to young footballers between the ages of 15 and 20.
The tournament will be played at the sub-zonal, zonal, sub-county, and county levels, culminating in the national championship whose winner will represent the country in this year’s Copa Coca-Cola Africa Cup set for South Africa.
The theme of this year’s competition is to educate the young participants about the importance of recycling for a litter-free environment by taking care of plastics disposal.
And as is the norm, the competition will be run under the auspices of the Kenya Secondary Schools Sports Association (KSSSA), powered by beverage makers Coca-Cola who renewed their Sh21.5 million sponsorship last year to cover the tournament from 2018 to 2020.
“This year we have come up with a theme on protecting the environment because, as you know, Kenya has been named among 14 other southern, east and central African countries earmarked to kick start the project of plastic recycling with the aim of lowering plastic waste pollution in the region.
“Sports is an integral part of the well-being of the youth and we hope that by introducing such behaviour change campaigns, we shall successfully mould individuals who will grow to become responsible members of the community,” said Kenya’s Coca-Cola Marketing Manager Evanson Ndungu during Saturday’s launch at Dagoretti High School.
Funds from KSSSA will be channelled towards purchasing kits for schools in the sub-zonal, zonal, sub-county, county, regional and national championships, purchase of trophies and medals for all games, and the administrative costs of running the tournament.
The Under-16 tournament is an annual event which has successfully launched the careers of a number of Kenyan football stars including Jerry Santo, Innocent Mutiso and Harambee Stars striker Michael Olunga.
Last year, six youngsters from title winning team St. Anthony’s High School were named in a national Under-20 provisional squad.