Sports Reporter
THE battle for honours in the 30th edition of the Copa Coca-Cola football tournament reaches a decisive phase today with district duels being held throughout the country. Organisers of the tournament, which celebrates its 30th anniversary, said all was set for the district battles.

‘’Tomorrow (today) the tournament reaches the district phase and there will be matches across the whole country,’’ said the organisers.

‘’This is a very important phase of the tournament and so far things have been going according to plan.’’
Tthe sponsors of the annual competition this year promised a bigger and better event.
The tourney was launched on May 15 at Rusununguko High School, who are the defending champions.

The actual competition started on May 24 with the zonal games which are now being followed by districts games today.
The provincial finals are set for June 22, culminating into the national finals from July 12 to 14 in Zvishavane.
Zvishavane High School will host the girls while Mandava High School hosts the boys finals.

Coca-Cola senior brand manager Vee Chibanda has already said it has been a fulfilling journey.
“It has been a journey full of a lot of learnings, an interesting journey, a fun journey and we got to meet with all sorts of children from different backgrounds,’’ she said.

“We got to identify talent we can talk about, Khama Billiat, we can talk about a lot of international stars that we have now like Peter Ndlovu.

“So, I think just looking at that success, you can see that it has been 30 years full of success for us. And we are very happy that we managed to come up with a platform where talent can be identified and it grows. So all I can say is that it’s been fun.

“We will have celebrations, the tournament will be filled with celebrations, for the children we will have a musical show for the children just to celebrate . . . so this year is just full of celebration. We are ready for this year’s edition and it will be a big event this year.”The tournament was launched in 1989 and the first finals, in collaboration with the National Association of Schools Heads, were held at Gifford in Bulawayo.

Mzilikazi won that inaugural event and their team included former Warriors skipper Peter Ndlovu.
As the tournament continued to grow, in 2011 they introduced the girls competition, which has also proved to be a success as it created a platform for aspiring young girls.

Vainona won the first two editions before Chidyamakono from Masvingo took over in 2013 and they have retained the title since then.

“The girls came on board and we are happy that talent is being identified. We continue to support the girls as you realise that the girl child has always had a challenge of being marginalised and they came on board late.

“But that is not going to stop us, we are going to continue to support the girls and hopefully soon we will be celebrating 30 years of the girls being supported at the grassroots level when it comes to soccer,” Chibanda said.

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