Ricky Zililo, Senior Sports Reporter
THE stage is set for today’s launch of the 31st edition of the country’s premier schools soccer tournament, COPA Coca-Cola, at Pamushana High School in Bikita.
Pamushana are the boys’ defending champions after defeating Guinea Fowl of Gweru 2-0 in last year’s final, while the reigning girls’ champions are Nyamauru from Manicaland who beat Bulawayo’s Mpopoma High School 2-1 in the final. The reigning champions head into the draw as seeded teams in their respective groups.
This year’s national finals will be hosted in the resort town of Kariba in Mashonaland West in July and the official boys and girls’ host schools get automatic qualification.
“All the provinces are coming to Masvingo on Wednesday and everything is set for the draw.
“We’re grateful to our sponsors Coca-Cola whose continued support goes a long way in athlete development.
“Some of the celebrated soccer stars went through this competition and we believe that the COPA Coca-Cola tournament provides learners a platform to market themselves,” said acting National Association for Secondary School Heads (Nash) president Arthur Maphosa.
“The reigning boys’ and girls’ champions will know who they start their title defence against at the draw. Dates for the provincial and national finals will also be revealed at the launch. And as usual, yesteryear greats are expected to be in attendance at the launch of this year’s competition,” he said.
Football legend and former national team captain, Peter Ndlovu, who plied his trade in England, ex-Warriors defender Harlington Shereni, Belgium-based Vusa Nyoni, Mkhokheli Dube, ex-Warriors’ goalkeeper Washington Arubi, former Dynamos goalie Tatenda Mukuruva and Johannes Ngodzo are some of the prominent footballers that cut their teeth in the COPA Coca-Cola finals.
Objectives of the COPA Coca-Cola tournament include inspiring young footballers to achieve their dreams through the competition by providing a global platform, camaraderie and opportunity for talented individuals to showcase their talent.
1989 – Mzilikazi High School
1990 – Hippo Valley High School
1991 – Hippo Valley High School
1992 – Churchill Boys High School
1993 – Mzilikazi High School
1994 – Churchill Boys High School
1995 – Mashoko High School
1996 – Hippo Valley High School
1997 – Hippo Valley High School
1998 – Mutare Boys High School
1999 – Mzilikazi High School
2000 – Churchill High School
2001 – Mzilikazi High School
2002 – Lord Malvern High School
2003 – Lord Malvern High School
2004 – Cranborne High School
2005 – Mt Pleasant High School
2006 – Chipadze High School
2007 – Pamushana High School
2008 – Churchill Boys high School
2009 – Dzivarasekwa High 2 School
2010 – Dewure High School
2011 – Manunure High School
2012 – Mzingwane High School
2013 – Chemhanza High School
2014 – Chemhanza High School
2015 – Dewure High School
2016 – Rujeko High School
2017 – Rusununguko High School
2018 – Pamushana High School
2011 – Vainona (Harare Province)
2012 – Vainona (Harare Province)
2013 – Chidyamakono (Masvingo Province)
2014 – Chidyamakono (Masvingo Province)
2015 – Chidyamakono (Masvingo Province)
2016 – Chidyamakono (Masvingo Province)
2017 – Chidyamakono (Masvingo Province)
2018 – Nyamauru (Manicaland Province)