"The journey started in 1989," Sam Muzvanya recalls. That year, the
first final of the
Although named after Mexico’s 1998 football tournament, Copa
Rugby and other sports continue to gain popularity in Zimbabwe, but football has always been the nation's primary past time.
“We needed to be part of it,’’ Sam explains. “We wanted to
achieve a way of grooming young boys so that after school, those who were good
at football could continue with sports.’’ That’s when then
While beer and cigarette companies were the main sponsors of
the Super League at the time, youth clubs did not have the leadership to support
a national football program. NASH, a branch of the Ministry of Education, provided
a structure to reach kids across the country, both from urban and rural
backgrounds. Inclusiveness, a Copa
“We wanted to spread football,’’ Sam says. “We wanted to ensure that each and every high school had an opportunity to participate.’’
In 1995, six years after the tournament’s inception, Mashoko, a rural high school, prevailed. Galvanized by their victory, Pamushana, Dewuri and Chemhanza, all rural high schools, followed.
Mashoko’s success presented a turn in the tournament’s
dynamics, inspiring other rural schools to promote football. It also shaped the
spirit of Copa
A National, Regional and
Global Football Program
Since the beginning of the
In appreciation for his contributions, Sam was invited to
attend the first-ever Copa
“What has really impressed me is to see how big Copa
What began as a collaborative effort with Zimbabwe’s government has expanded to 60 countries, reaching more than 1.3 million young players worldwide.
The African continent has been at the heart of this
expansion, hosting a regional football tournament in the 1990s. This legacy has placed Africa at the forefront of Copa
The camp’s Top Scorer, top goalie and Fair Play Awards were given out to Yuma Yusuf, Khulekani Khubeko and Ahmed Hussein from Tanzania, South Africa and Egypt, respectively. Others like Juma Yatina from Malawi and Serge Quiaibio from Ivory Coast were recognized for their personal attributes; Juma’s curiosity to learn and immerse himself in other cultures earned him the Keep Discovering Prize, while Serge’s qualities as a natural leader awarded him the Captain Prize.
From a high school football program to an international camp
in Brazil, Sam has not only seen Copa
Many young players have since their enrollment in Copa
Tatenda Munditi, a 17 year old from Zimbabwe who attended the
Perhaps the most famous case yet is Peter Ndolvu. As a young player from Mzilikazi highschool, Ndolvu rose through the ranks of football, integrating a community team and eventually joining Zimbabwe’s National Team. In 1991, he signed with Coventry City and played for the English team for 10 years.
Like many teens who have taken part in Copa
“I’m like them,’’ he says. “Soccer gave me a job.’’