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Talent not a challenge for Nigerian football, says Copa Coca-Cola’s Sanni

Chairman, Technical Committee, Lagos Football Association, Mr. Dotun Coker; National Secretary, Nigerian School Sports Federation (NSSF), Olabisi Joseph; Team Captain, winners of the 2015 Copa Coca-Cola, Awori College, Ojo, Fasasi Elijah; Senior Brand Manager, Colas, Coca-Cola Nigeria Limited, Gbolahan Sanni, and Principal, Awori College, Ojo, Adeyemo Joshua, at the COPA Coca-Cola finals, held at Dairy Farm Secondary School, Lagos...recently.

Chairman, Technical Committee, Lagos Football Association, Mr. Dotun Coker; National Secretary, Nigerian School Sports Federation (NSSF), Olabisi Joseph; Team Captain, winners of the 2015 Copa Coca-Cola, Awori College, Ojo, Fasasi Elijah; Senior Brand Manager, Colas, Coca-Cola Nigeria Limited, Gbolahan Sanni, and Principal, Awori College, Ojo, Adeyemo Joshua, at the COPA Coca-Cola finals, held at Dairy Farm Secondary School, Lagos…recently.

The Copa Coca-Cola, which started nine years ago, is aimed at boosting grassroots football development in Nigeria, Coca-Cola Nigeria’s Gbolahan Sanni has revealed.

This year’s edition is the fifth in the series, as there have been some breaks in between. The last Copa Coca-Cola was held in 2012.

Sanni, who said the organisers have learnt a lot over the years, adds that the brand connects with the young generation, latching on their passion to promote the game.  

He says: “We know that music and football are the two biggest passion points for young people and we have a massive pool of talents in Nigeria waiting for the opportunity to express themselves.

“A proof of young footballing talent in Nigeria will be the phenomenal success of our National U-17 team, the Golden Eaglets winning the FIFA U-17 World Cup consecutively. So, Coca-Cola will continue to be dedicated to giving Nigerians the opportunity to showcase their talent.

“With Copa Coca-Cola, Nigerian teenagers join the largest grassroots football tournament, which gives them both national and international exposure and also instills an active healthy lifestyle in them. Our dedication to talent development is also evident in our commitment to develop community fields in various cities across the nation, thereby improving the everyday football experience of the Nigerian youth.” 
 
He describes the response to Copa Coca-Cola this year compared to previous years as phenomenal, adding, “this year we introduced a lot of entertainment during the matches. The average Nigerian youth loves music and aspires to be the next Olamide. So, we integrated music and dancing during halftime as an avenue for our consumers to showcase their talents.  We have had a lot of commendations in all the cities that we have gone to.”

Sanni reveals that the programme has reaffirmed Coca-Cola’s belief that there is so much talent in this country, adding:

“Talent is not a challenge as far as Nigeria is concerned. It is developing the talent the right way and getting those people to move from competitions like this to a more advanced stage like playing for top local and international clubs that is the biggest challenge.

“The talent we have seen this year have been fantastic… if you look at the goal scorer for Awori College, he scored two goals in almost the same way. So, these people practice and see a rewarding career in football and they give their all, they give everything for football, which happens to be Copa Coca-Cola’s theme.”
 
The Copa tournament this year was played in 10 states nationwide, but Sanni reveals that the plan is to take it to all the 36 states to ensure more people have the opportunity to show their talent.

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