THE 31st edition of the Copa Coca-Cola tournament was launched yesterday at Pamushana High School in Bikita with NASH acting president, Arthur Maposa, challenging schools to desist from age-cheating.
In a draw conducted yesterday Pamushana, the defending champions in the boys’ section, will face provincial winners from Mashonaland East and Midlands.
Girls’ reigning champions, Nyamauru, are up against winners from Masvingo and Matabeleland North.
This year’s tournament has moved from Under-15 to 15-and-Under boys and girls.
Last year, a number of players from different schools at the national finals in Zvishavane were disqualified from the tournament over allegations of age-cheating.
This put into the spotlight the vetting system, which includes physical screening.
Speaking at a colourful launch yesterday at Pamushana, Maposa said the mentality of wanting to win at all cost has contributed to the cancer of age-cheating.
“The will to get to the upper podium and lift the Cup has led to challenges, where in some instances we do have the “win-at-all-cost” syndrome, hence the scourge of cheating creeps in,’’ he said.
“We have had these challenges but they cannot eclipse our good work.
“The issue we are seized with is to come clean in answer to the equivocal concern amongst our members “to cheat or not to cheat.’
“Our mandate as NASH is to catch them young for the future development of sports in our country.
“Is there any developmental sense then in making the old, young, in pursuit of the “win-at-all-costs?”
Maposa said there is need to deal with the problem that has negatively affected their sport codes.
“Let us all soberly, and holistically, if not passionately and religiously, exorcise our organisation and the repute NASH of this satanic and demonic inclination towards age falsification.
“I propose that, from now, be the true custodians of youthful sports development — genuinely exposing and nurturing our learners so that they can have a future in the disciplines we offer,” said Maposa.
Coca-Cola Eastern and Central Africa programme manager, Vee Chibanda, said they were hoping to continue making a difference through the tournament.
“Today, as we launch Copa Coca-Cola, I am hoping that we will have more teens who will grow to be superstars, who will grow to showcase and represent Zimbabwe.
“As the Coca-Cola system in Zimbabwe, which is made up of the Coca-Cola company, Delta Beverages and Mutare Bottling company, it is our goal to ensure that we give back to the communities that we work in.
“It is also our goal that we are part of the development process that happens within the communities.
“We want to develop to make sure that we have a successful nation, so we will continue to support sport in Zimbabwe and we will continue to support the growth of the communities that we do business in.
“To the children, I say do your best and compete in the spirit of sportsmanship and fair play,” said Chibanda.
This year’s national finals will be held from July 11 to 13. The tournament kicks off with the zonal games on May 24, which will be followed by district competition on June 7.
The provincial finals are expected to be staged on June 28 and then the national event in July. Yesterday’s launch was graced by various stakeholders including Masvingo provincial education director Zedius Chitiga, who was the guest of honour.
Group A: Matabeleland South, Mashonaland Central, Mashonaland West.
Group B: Masvingo, Manicaland, Harare.
Group C: Host School, Matabeleland North, Bulawayo.
Group D: Pamushana High School, Mashonaland East, Midlands.
Group A: Mash West, Midlands, Matabeleland South.
Group B: Manicaland, Mashonaland Central, Mashonaland East.
Group C: Host School, Bulawayo, Harare.
Group D: Masvingo, Nyamauru High School, Matabeleland North.