The Coca Cola Company has launched the fifth season of its annual COPA football tournament in the region, in partnership with the Ethiopian Football Federation (EFF), East Africa bottling Share Company and other stakeholders.
Copa Coca- Cola is one of the world largest brand supported grassroots football initiatives that connects and engages youth, with the prospect of attaining their football dreams whilst encouraging them to bond, form new friendships, and acquire significant football and social skills through team involvement.
Coca cola continues its commitment to develop Ethiopian football among youth, working in collaboration with the EFF, to inspire and cultivate future professional players. The COPA tournament, which will be held for the next three months, will engage 2500 boys and girls' teams and conduct football matches with over 45,000 youth, under the age of 15, participating. Over 500 schools will take part in a recycling program, by collecting used plastic bottles and crowns for the chance to win a football pitch, as a prize, for their respective school. Coca Cola organized the recycling initiative in partnership with PAC as part of this year's COPA tournament.
At the opening event, COCA Cola franchise manager, Alem Alemayehu stated that, "This year's theme in conjunction with the Copa tournament, has the objective to educate school-aged youth about the importance of recycling for a litter free environment. Coca-Cola will encourage good recycling habits for the future."
Furthermore, Alem also explained the winning school would get a chance to win a football pitch as a prize, while the runner-up schools will receive books, stationary equipment, and the like.
The deputy secretary of the EFF, Solomon Gebreselassie shared his excitement of the launch of the tournament stating, "I am very happy to attend the opening of the Copa Cola football tournament. I believe such programs are essential to provide inspiration and support for our youth, and not only develop football in Ethiopia but to inspire young players and help them improve their skills in the sport, enabling them to become better players in the future."
Following the completion of this season's school competition, the winning school teams (one boys and one girls' team, per school) will be selected from each region, to represent their respective regions, at the national tournament. Top players from the regional semi-finals will be chosen in the tournament's final week, and the two top teams will compete for the COPA COCA-COLA finals.
In the past four years, various youth players had a chance to join several top clubs in the league. Meanwhile, more than 120 young players will have an opportunity to be selected for the Ethiopian Youth Academy.