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The Coca-Cola System in Kenya has embarked on an environmental behavior change campaign involving COPA Coca-Cola 2019 participating secondary school students, educating them on the importance of a cleaner environment by taking care of plastics disposal.

One school, in every region (former provinces) pitches are set to be revamped. The winner will be determined by the school that achieves the highest number of kilos over the tournament period which runs from May to July 2019.

The program is part of the company’s initiative to address the plastic waste pollution. Kenya, amongst fourteen other Southern, East and Central Africa countries, have been earmarked to kick start the project, set up to stimulate plastic recycling industries and create awareness of plastic waste pollution.

Speaking during the launch, Evanson Ndungu, Coca-Cola Marketing Manager, Kenya said; “Sports is an integral part of the wellbeing of the youth. It improves their physical and emotional aspects while also enabling their holistic development. By introducing a behavior change campaign, it will go a long way to ensure they grow to be responsible members of the community.”

He added, “Football unites all regardless of age and gender. This year will be special as soccer will contribute to a greater cause which is protecting our environment by educating young people on conservation.”

A total of 5,400 schools will be participating in this years’ tournament representing an 8% increase from last year’s games.

The national initiative will involve 2,000 out of the 5,400 participating schools in COPA Coca-Cola tournament ensuring that the teens are educated on the importance of recycling for a litter-free environment. The schools were selected based on the reach of the current recyclers and collectors.

The communities surrounding the schools will also be involved in order to ensure all Kenyans participate in taking good care of the environment.

The Kenya Secondary Schools Sports Association (KSSSA) will still continue to manage the games, as the company last year renewed the Kshs 21.5 Million sponsorship which covers 2018 to 2020. The funds will go towards full kitting of schools in the Sub-zonal, Zonal, Sub-County, County, Regional and National championships, purchase of trophies and medals for all games, as well as run the seamless administration of the tournament.

The Under-16 boys and girls will compete in this year’s tournament for the chance to be crowned the Kenyan champions and a direct ticket for the COPA Coca-Cola Africa Cup.

The exploits of the St. Antony’s High School soccer team during the 2018 championship led Lucas Maina, Wisdom Nava, Jacob Onyango, David Leon, Salim Badi and Issa Emuria being named in the Kenya U-20 provisional Squad that were to participate in the CECAFA Under-20 Championship in Uganda that was later called off.

The under-16 tournament has continued to be pedestal of Kenyan soccer stars since its inception in 2008 in nurturing untapped football talent.