Copa Coca Cola at 30

The Manica Post - - Sport - Ray Bande Se­nior Sports Re­porter

THE coun­try’s flag­ship ju­nior foot­ball tour­na­ment Copa Coca Cola turns 30 this year and even if Man­i­ca­land has won it once since in­cep­tion, the prov­ince prides it­self in tap­ping into the ju­nior foot­ball com­pe­ti­tion to pro­vide plat­form to one of the lat­est gems the high schools soc­cer tour­na­ment has ever pro­duced.

Tal­ented goal­keeper Ta­tenda Mun­diti, who once turned out for Mutare City Rovers, was the player of the Copa Coca Cola tour­na­ment 2013 edi­tion when his goal­keep­ing skills lit­er­ally earned Chemhanza High the cov­eted na­tional cham­pi­onship ac­co­lade.

Mun­diti and Ta­tenda Tumba, were in Brazil for six days dur­ing the 2014 Soc­cer World Cup courtesy of Copa Coca-Cola. The two, mem­bers of the Chemhanza and Copa Coca-Cola Dream Team, at­tended a train­ing camp and watched some of the matches at the World Cup be­fore re­turn­ing home.

Only a year later he was in the books of Mutare City Rovers as a re­serve goal­keeper when the mu­nic­i­pal­ity owned team was still in the Eastern Re­gion Di­vi­sion One. To­day Mun­diti is now Premier­ship log lead­ers Ngezi Plat­inum prop­erty.

In her speech at the me­dia ap­pre­ci­a­tion event held in the cap­i­tal on Wed­nes­day, Coca Coca se­nior brand man­ager Vee Chibanda took note of Mun­diti and many other stars who came through the 30 year old ju­nior foot­ball tour­na­ment.

“Such play­ers in­clude Nor­man Maroto, Knowl­edge Mu­sona, Har­ling­ton Shereni and Khama Bil­liart and lately we have Ta­tenda Tumba and Ta­tenda Mun­diti, the boys whom Coca Cola re­cently took to Brazil and they are now shin­ing in the Pre­mier League. “An ini­tia­tive that be­gan in Zim­babwe ladies and gentle­men is now a global tour­na­ment played in more than 68 coun­tries, reach­ing more than 1.3 mil­lion young play­ers world­wide,” she said.

How­ever, Man­i­ca­land prov­ince has only man­aged to win it once in its three decades of ex­is­tence.

The trail­blaz­ing Mutare Boys High of 1998 went all the way to win the tour­na­ment with the likes of the late Aaron Ngorima, Ge­orge Sit­hole, Mal­com Meuka among oth­ers fea­tur­ing in that squad.

Out­go­ing Man­i­ca­land NASH Head in Charge of foot­ball Joseph Machuwaire said the sea­sonal soc­cer ses­sions in Man­i­ca­land school has re­sulted in un­der­per­for­mance in the Copa Coca Cola tour­na­ment.

“There is a marked im­prove­ment in girls’ soc­cer es­pe­cially for Nya­mauru High School in Mutare, Cross­dale in Nyanga, Ma­mun­yadza in Buhera and Goko High in Chipinge. For the boys their per­for­mance has gone down. They have not been able to go be­yond the quar­ter fi­nals sev­eral times.

“Schools par­tic­i­pat­ing in this tour­na­ment from Man­i­ca­land only have foot­ball train­ing ses­sions dur­ing Term Two while their coun­ter­parts in the Mid­lands, Mashona­land Cen­tral, Harare and Bulawayo prov­inces have started to have foot­ball train­ing ses­sions through­out the year let alone the pres­ence of soc­cer acad­e­mies and spon­sor­ship in those prov­inces. There­fore that gives them an edge over us,” said Machuwaire.

The in­com­ing Man­i­ca­land NASH Head in Charge of foot­ball John Muy­ocha also lamented on the fail­ure by schools in Man­i­ca­land to make a last­ing im­pres­sion in the tour­na­ment.

“Per­son­ally I am also wor­ried about the be­low av­er­age per­for­mance of teams from Man­i­ca­land and I have had meet­ings with district heads to find ways of im­prov­ing our per­for­mance. It is work in progress and we wel­come all those with ideas and re­sources to see Man­i­ca­land per­form­ing bet­ter in this tour­na­ment,” he said.

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