Sponsorship concern as Cosafa U-20 kicks off

According to Makgalemele, the President of Botswana FA and host to the COSAFA executive meeting held last week, there is a concern that the regional soccer controlling body is not doing enough for women’s and the Under-17’s soccer.

“What we want to concentrate on when going forward is to mobilise the private sector to come on board and support us in our endeavours to develop the under-17 and under-20 footballs in the region and women’s soccer,” said Makgalemele.

Southern Times established that The Council of Southern African Football Associations (COSAFA) Under 20 tournament almost hit hard rocks had it not been for the last minute partnership with South Africa’s leading financial services group Metropolitan Holdings Limited and the North-West Provincial Government, to sponsor and host respectively the 2006 COSAFA Under-20 Championship for a period of one-year.

At the launch and draw of the tournament that took place in Johannesburg recently, it was announced that twelve countries will participate at this year’s edition of the popular juniors’ Tournament which started this week and is expected to end on December 16.

Phillip Makgalemele, president of the Botswana Football Association conducted the Under 20 draw together with Dr Molefi Oliphant, president of the South African Football Association and COSAFA Executive member; Nkosinathi Chonco, group executive at Metropolitan and Councilor Themba Gwabeni, Executive Mayor, Central Districts.

There has been no publicity about the games in South Africa and most ‘ people are said to be unaware of the Under-20 Cosafa Championship . The 2010 World Cup which South Africa will host, seems to have swallowed the competition that feeds the senior national teams.

Zambia is in Group B with defending champions Madagascar, Angola and Mozambique, all strong sides .Zambia is the only team in the Cosafa region that qualified for the 2007 Africa Youth Championships to be held in Congo Brazzaville.

The Cosafa championship offers Zambia a perfect stage to prepare for the continental showpiece in which they last competed in 1999.

The COSAFA Under-20 Championship is an international youth tournament involving the Under-20 National Teams from 14 southern African countries who compete in a play-off to produce a regional winner. New-comers Comores and Seychelles from whence the new COSAFA President hails from, are not participating. South Africa, Zimbabwe, Namibia and Swaziland are in Group A. The host have done well in this event, winning it in 2000 and 2004 and reaching the semi-finals in 2001; 2002; 2003 and 2005.

As the premier Under-20 competition on the continent, the COSAFA Under-20 Championship is widely considered a tournament where future talent for the 2010 World Cup players can be identified.

Group C is relatively easier with Lesotho, Botswana, Mauritius and Malawi all battling it out.

The Cosafa Under-20 tournament has been in existence for almost a decade. South Africa has hosted the past eight editions. It is the most successful development programme in the southern region. Oliphant says if one looks at their mission statement the last bullet point states clearly that they are committed to Africa’s ascendancy in international football and also while doing that, they will be hosting major international tournaments and the Cosafa tournament is one of them.

Nkosinathi Chonco, group executive at Metropolitan, says the sponsorship which came on the last minute will further boost soccer development in southern Africa and prepare young, up and coming talent for the 2010 FIFA World Cup’ and beyond.

“Through our sponsorship of the Metropolitan National Under-19 League we have built a strong development platform for soccer in South Africa. Now, with our sponsorship of the COSAFA Under-20 Championship, we are strengthening this platform beyond our borders,” says Chonco.

“The COSAFA Under-20 Championship is a chance for talented players who are emerging from the National Leagues to move into a more competitive arena and play against other African countries. Metropolitan’s sponsorship of the COSAFA Under-20 Championship means that young players will now have an opportunity to exercise their choice ‘ something that most of them have been historically deprived of” concluded Chonco.

December 2006
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