Coca-Cola has once again provided a platform for aspiring professional footballers to showcase their talent at an international level. Through their football development initiative, COPA Coca-Colâ, two South African youngsters will be embarking on an experience of a lifetime when they join over 100 footballing teens from around the world at the COPA Coca-Colaâ International Camp in Germany scheduled from the 26th – 31st July 2015.
Now in its 27th year, COPA Coca-Colaâ unites football-loving teens in every continent around the world, promoting an active lifestyle and encouraging values that are the foundation of life and sportsmanship. The two South African teenagers have been invited alongside young players from a total of 27 countries to attend this year’s COPA Coca-Colaâ International Camp, having competed through a series of regional rounds to participate in a national championship before being selected for the global tournament. The six-day trip to Berlin will be packed with training sessions, workshops, games, events and coaching and guidance from members of Germany’s 2014 FIFA World Cup™ winning football team.
The two boys who will be rubbing shoulders with other young talents are Umlazi-born Notha Ngcobo and Mokhethi Pali from Botshabelo. The players caught the eye of the selectors at the COPA Coca-Colaâ National Finals in 2014. As a result, they are on their way to the home of the reigning world champions to test their skills and fly the South African flag on the global stage.
Ngcobo is currently part of the Mamelodi Sundowns development system and a learner at Clapham High School in Pretoria. He is no stranger to success, having been part of the South African side that competed at the 2015 African Under-17 Championships in Niger earlier in the year, where he and his team picked up a silver medal.
He recalls winning the 2014 COPA Coca-Colaâ national championships with his school and highlights this as his most memorable moment on his footballing journey thus far: “The tournament was held in my hometown, Umlazi so I was fortunate enough to have my parents watching from the stands when I was honoured with the Player of the Tournament award – a really special moment for me.” he says
The 16-year-old Ngcobo idolises Real Madrid fullback Marcelo Vieira da Silva Júnior and hopes to one day play for one of the European giants.
“I dream of playing overseas one day and the COPA Coca-Colaâ tournament has helped me a lot in trying to reach this goal by building my confidence and by affording me a chance to showcase my skill to the rest of the world. Going to Germany will be a dream come true for me,”Ngcobo added.
Echoing the same sentiments is Ngcobo’s counterpart Mokhethi Pali, a grade 10 pupil at Louis Botha High School in Bloemfontein.
The left-footed striker played a crucial role for his team in their 2014 COPA Coca-Cola® Provincial title win by netting the winning goal against Retshidisitswe High School.
“I am looking forward to this trip and I will grasp the opportunity that has been given to me by Coca-Cola with both hands. I know that I have a lot to learn and this experience will help me reach my dream of becoming a professional footballer one day.” says Pali.
Highlights of the COPA Coca-Colaâ camp will include an Opening Ceremony, training sessions with Hansi Flick – assistant coach of the 2014 FIFA World Cup™ winning German national team – and daily challenges in the grounds of the prestigious Lindow Sports Academy. Footballing teens will have the opportunity to learn tips and tricks from other inspiring coaches and players including 2014 FIFA World Cup™ winner, Benedikt Höwedes, and1990 FIFA World Cup™ winner Pierre Littbarski.
Coca-Cola South Africa’s Senior Communications Manager: Brand Experience, Fetsi Mbele, commented, “We are delighted to welcome over 100 teens from around the world to Berlin to celebrate their love for football. With an action-packed schedule, the teens attending, including Nothaand Mokhethi,will have the opportunity to gain skills, enjoy new experiences with new friends from across the world and even meet FIFA World Cup™ champions in an inspiring atmosphere. We hope the Copa Coca Colaâ International Camp will provide memories for a lifetime and inspire teens to further pursue their football passion for years to come.”