By James Agberebi:
Five thousand secondary schools across the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja are expected to take part in this year's ninth edition of the Copa Coca-Cola U-15 football tournament, Completesportsnigeria.com reports.
Marketing Manager, Coca-Cola Nigeria, Cletus Onyebuoha; Marketing Director, Coca-Cola Nigeria, Patricia Jemibewon; President of the Nigeria Schools Sports Federation (NSSF) Ibrahim Muhammed; former Nigeria internationals, Victor Ikpeba, Tajudeen Disu, former Super Falcons goalkeeper Ann Chiejine and ex-Flying Eagles coach Tunde Disu were all in attendance at a press conference in Lagos on Tuesday to herald the competition.
This year's edition which will be held from April 14 to early July is divided into three stages: the grassroots, group and final stages.
At the grassroots stage, interested schools in each of the 37 states will compete for a chance to represent their states at the group stage/regional stage.
During the group stage, each region will be divided into groups from which a winner will emerge from the tournament sequential structure for the next round.
The final stage is the National Finals, which will be hosted in Lagos, with the grand finale to be held also in Lagos.
"At the state level, all 110,000 participating teens will get a Copa Coca-Cola bib; the top three teams will receive medals and the winning team in all 36 states and the FCT will receive a trophy and makeover of a football pitch of their choice worth over five million naira in total," Jemibewon explained.
"At the national level, players in the top three teams and the top three schools will benefit from an education trust fund totaling N22 million as well as cash prizes totaling N2 million.
"There is also the golden boot for the highest goal scorer, plaque for the Most Valuable Player, Golden Gloves for the best goalkeeper and a trophy for the National winner."
Onyebuoha remarked that Copa Coca-Cola has played a big role in the success story of some of the students who have taken part in the torunament in the past.