Nestlé Milo has been devoted to the cause of promoting active lifestyles and unearthing talents through its Sports Development Programs in Schools for the past 2 decades, especially through the annual Milo U-13 Champions League.
The 2018 edition of the Champions League began with 48 schools competing in four zones, from which 10 top schools qualified and advanced to the finals to represent each of the 10 regions of the country.
The grand finale which is currently underway at the Paa Joe Park, (KNUST) in Kumasi, between 21st to 23rd of June, 2018 will see the winning school walk away with a giant trophy, medals, cash prizes, footballs and other souvenirs from Nestle Ghana Limited.
The competition, which begun in May this year under the theme; “Team Makes Me” aims to inculcate into the young talents the essence of team work as well as tolerance, especially to behaviours of others from diverse backgrounds.
So far, about 20,000 schoolchildren from 48 schools across all 10 regions have participated in the competition through the zonal levels, with 10 schools now battling it out in the grand finale. This represents a key step towards unearthing the next generation of football stars in Ghana.
With all ten finalists from the various regions prepared and eager to grab the ultimate prize and the bragging rights, lovers of youth football can expect nothing but the best of skills display by the young talents.
The 10 participating schools in the finals after all the four zonal events are; Kaladan E/P from the Northern Region, Kundugud Primary from U/W Region, St. Mark Primary from Upper East Region, Sepe Timpon M/A Primary from Ashanti Region and Techimantia Methodist Primary from Brong Ahafo Region.
Others include: Myohang Forces Primary from Western Region; A&D Memorial Basic School from the Central Region; Amasaman M/A from Greater Accra; St. Anthony R/C Primary, Eastern Region; and Nkwanta Redeem D/A Primary School from the Volta Region.
“Healthy living is not only about eating right but also being physically active is key to maintaining a well-balanced and healthy lifestyle. Aside fortifying our products with the necessary micronutrients to address under-nutrition, we at Nestlé encourage healthy eating habits and active lifestyles through avenues such as the Milo U-13 Champions League to help ensure growth and wellbeing of individuals and families, especially children,” said Mrs. Freda Duplan, Managing Director of Nestlé Ghana.
Potential future national stars to be unearthed
Although the zonal qualifiers was full of amazing talents from all the four zones, some of the players were simply phenomenal, and could soon be knocking on the doors of the national under-17 – the Black Starlets.
Whereas such tournaments have lost the lure of many scouts in recent times as avenue for unearthing talents, this year’s edition has Stephen Appiah, a former Black Stars Captain and a current deputy coach of the senior national team, as Ambassador, who has promised to help revive interest in schools’ sports.
With him himself, and the likes of other former national football stars such as Michael Essien, Sullay Ali Muntari, Prince Tagoe, among others, having competed and spotted in similar competitions in the past, there is renewed hope that the next generation could emerge from the competition this weekend.
Young talents to look out for
Bilson Agyapong of St. Anthony R/C Primary from Eastern Region was close to impeccable in the zone-4 finals emerging as both the best player of the zone and the goal king. His understanding of the game, passing skills and ball control cannot be overlooked.
Alex Amoafa who was joint goal king on four goals with Bilson Agyapong, in zone-4 is another talent to look out for. He is always at the right position at the right time to provide that clinical finish.
Matthew Amoah of Myohang Forces Primary from Western Region, who won the most valuable player of zone-3, with his great skills on the wings is another talent to look out for. Likewise, there is King Ampofo of A&D Memorial School in the Central Region, who also emerged as the winner of the goal king prize with five-goals in five matches, one of the highest during the qualifiers.
A very enterprising Alhassan Abdulai, who won best goalkeeper in zone-4, made some fantastic saves that got all clapping for him, and much more is to be expected from the young stopper in the finals.
Additionally, Eric Darwah of Sepe Tampon M/A Primary is one talent to also watch out for in the near future. As the skipper of his side, young Darwah leads by example by dictating games from the middle of the field.
Other names that could become household names should they decide to pursue a career in football include Mohammed Yasin from Kaladan EP Primary, won the Goal King in the zone-1 qualifiers, scoring eight goals in 5 matches – the highest in the competition, and Abubakar Osman from the same school, who was also adjudged Best Goal Keeper after conceded just one goal in 5 games.
In a separate development, Stephen Appiah and Beverages Category Manager at Nestlé, Marilyn Ofori unveiled the various jerseys to be used by the 10 teams.