THE 2013 under-15 COPA Coca-Cola football tournament will reach its climax when nine provincial winners compete in the National Finals scheduled for October 11-13 at the Vreygrond Stadium, St. Patrick Avenue, Cape Town.
The National Finals are a culmination of grueling months of qualification matches, to produce the best school team to represent the province at the National Finals.
During the same time a team of scouts were also looking out for exceptional players, whose teams did not qualify to nationals but stood a chance to form part of the All Star Invitational Team.
The 2013 COPA Coca-Cola All Star Invitational players, like their peers will also experience the national finals as well as an opportunity to showcase their talent.
With reigning champions Johannesburg Secondary School from Gauteng, and runners-up Bodikela Secondary School from Free State out of the running, this year’s tournament opens the door for other schools to show their potential and be crowned the new champions.
This is good news to Benny’s Care Sports Academy who has their eye fixed on making this their COPA Coca-Cola® first national title. The school is representing Limpopo for the 4th successive year in the tournament and vows to do things differently this year.
“I’ve told my boys that we can perform well this year, if we only focus and give our outmost best. We are ready for the final battle, by winning this year’s COPA Coca-Cola, we will not only make ourselves proud but the community, our school and the province as well.” says Justice Matloga who has coached Benny’s Care for the past five years.
Matloga also acknowledged that the team has learnt from last year’s “slip-ups” and will have a different approach this year: “Last year we lost a lot of points due to lack of concentration. The boys have to master the art of concentration and focus; I have therefore mentally prepared them not to make simple mistakes.”
Matloga is also aware that his squad will have to score goals and match their opponents’ strength in each and every game in order to proceed to the next round.
Expected to give Benny’s Care a run for their money is none other than new Gauteng champions Rosina Sedibane Modiba Sports School and Free State champions Harmony High School. Both schools have entrenched themselves among the best soccer schools in the country and have produced some of the nation’s top footballers. Their partnership with respective Premier Soccer League clubs such as Supersport United and Bloemfontein Celtic, have played an imperative role in their players development.
Coach Ronald Peterson, who is also at the helm of Rosina Sedibane’s sports development, said he was happy to be finally representing Gauteng at nationals.
“We have been struggling for years to win the COPA Coca-Cola provincial title and we are excited to have finally done so. We are newcomers in the national stage of the tournament but definitely not newcomers in schools football. Preparations are well underway and my boys are looking forward to this challenge.” said Peterson.
Meanwhile, Harmony is also working hard to ensure they are ready when the time comes. Many of the Harmony High School pupils, who will also participate at the national finals, are also part of the Harmony Sport Academy, founded in 2003 with a sole purpose of developing football excellence, something The Coca-Cola is passionate about.
Other provincial finalist of the 2013 COPA Coca-Cola national finals includes;
* Qhilika Secondary – Kwazulu-Natal.
* Thikhondele High School – Mpumalanga.
* Kakamas High School – Northern Cape.
* Luckhoff High School – Western Cape.
* Charles Morgan Senior Primary School – Eastern Cape.
* Tshedimosetso Secondary School – North West
Over and above battling for the national title, the players are presented with an opportunity to catch the eyes of the scouts and stand the chance of being part of the International COPA Camp in Brazil next year, where they will mix with their peers from around the world, in a once-in-a-lifetime chance to train and play under some of the best youth coaches in the world.