Year in year out, Coca-Cola affects the lives of many Nigerian children though its grassroots developmental football initiative, Copa Coca-Cola. Call it corporate social responsibility gesture, you would bee absolutely correct.
The idea targeted at teens about the age of 15, has been running for close to a decade touching the ends of the country with meaningful take-away packages for the participating schools.
Without doubts, talents have been discovered, lives have been touched, homes have blessed by such corporate gestures which may not be peculiar to the brand (Coca-Cola) only. We have seen some global brands organize sprint events, Basketball and other games, which is highly commendable, also to mention the media arm (Channels TV) involved through its football competition tagged ‘Channels kids cup’.
Highly commendable. But we need to see more organizations get involved to save the nation at a time such as this when the national sports festival aimed at discovering talents is not a certainty as confirmed by the Sports ministry owing to “lack of funds.”
Meanwhile, around 5,000 schools participated in this year’s Copa Coca-Cola football competition which saw Progressive Comprehensive Secondary school, Osun emerge winner after beating Owerri City College 1-0 in the final inside Onikan stadium, Lagos. Also, Fosla Academy who were runner up in the last edition lost by a lone goal to Government College Katsina to claim third position.
The theme for this year’s competition, “COPA Coca-Cola Gives You More”, actually captures what the brand has to offer the teens now and in the coming years. Marketing Manager (Colas), Coca-Cola Nigeria, Mr Cletus Onyebuoha in an exclusive interview with PageOne.ng noted that the company was committed to developing the game in the country.
“The competition is a platform for us to give back to the society, and when we do that it helps us in terms of corporate reputation. For the brand it also helps us gain the love of the teens when we reach out to them directly. The brand is for teens, and they are our core target.
“Developing the game of soccer in Nigeria from the grassroots is our target for Copa Coca-Cola. And that is why we started playing this games from the grassroots; villages, local governments, states, regionals, regionals of regionals until we have the national finals.
“We are discovering them from the remotest parts of the country and are mostly public schools where you have many underprivileged kids. And that is why we added scholarships this time around having discovered that if we are going to encourage them to follow their passion which is soccer, you have to map out how to keep them in school and learn so they can chase both concurrently.
“We have done this for nine seasons and we are still going.
“Every year we keep having an incremental improvements, we keep on challenging our strategies, our own successes as well just to make sure that we are doing things better. For example, last year we went to only 3000 schools, only 32 states, but this year we touched all 36 states including the FCT and reach 5000 out of 700 public schools ofcourse with a few private schools as well.
“In terms of scholarship, it wasn’t available last year. What we did was to have an education fund to the winning schools but this time it was a combination (Maximum scholarship of NGN500,000, each student gets individual scholarship as well) You will agree with me that this is an improvement compared to the previous.
Speaking on the future of the competition, Mr Cletus confirmed that the brand is cooking up a much bigger package for the next edition. “Don’t forget that next year is a FIFA world cup year, and Coca-Cola is a global sponsor of the event, so what we will say is that everyone should stay tuned.”
For the sports ministry and the just-launched sporting federations in the country, its is high time they initiated developmental programmes in the model of what Copa Coca-Cola presents and the initiatives of other private organizations. Perhaps a public-private partnership will be a welcome idea. Plus, this must not stop at the ideation and execution. We must as a matter of fact follow-up on the talents discovered to ensure they really become what they want to become in matter of years, representing the nation at world events as the case may be. It is beyond competition.
Photo credit: Tolu Olasoji