The second staging of the CAF African Schools Football Championship | COSAFA Qualifier, Zimbabwe 2023 will take place in Harare from December 14-16, with a slight tweak to the tournament this year as teams vie to represent the region on the continental stage.
Eleven COSAFA members will send boys and girls sides to compete in the Under-15 competition, where they will hope to earn a place at the continental finals in 2024.
Angola, Botswana, Eswatini, Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa, Zambia, and hosts Zimbabwe will all be represented, and
teams this year can be made up of the best players from the national qualifiers, rather than single schools.
If federations choose to go that route, it means they can be represented by the best of their young school’s talent in the country, and will no doubt add to what was an exceptionally high standard in the inaugural year.
The boys’ competition will be played on full-sized pitches with 11-a-side, while the girls’ tournament is played on half-sized pitches and is 8-a-side. In both competitions it will be 20 minutes per half, with a 10-minute halftime break.
The draw for both competitions will be made in Harare ahead of the event. It is a big step up from the inaugural event that was played in Malawi in October 2022.
That competition had five girls’ sides and was won by South African school Edendale Technical. There were six teams in the boys’ competition and Clapham High School from South Africa were victorious there too.
COSAFA President Artur de Almeida e Silva says the competition will be a major steppingstone for the boys and girls who dream of playing football professionally.
“This is much more than a school’s competition, it is a first introduction to international football for the vast majority of these players,” he said. “The U15 age
group category is a crucial one and gives these young players a taste of what it takes to challenge their peers in the region.
“We applaud CAF President Dr Patrice Motsepe for his vision in introducing this vital competition and will build on the success of the last competition, where we also were honoured to host the continental finals.
“We wish all the competing teams the best of luck and thank the Zimbabwe Football Association for agreeing to play host this year, and all other stakeholders involved.”
Zimbabwe Football Association Chairperson Lincoln Mutasa says the country is ready to welcome all the teams to Harare.
“We are delighted to be back competing on the international scene again,” Mutasa said. “We couldn’t ask for a better way to start the new chapter than to host the CAF African Schools Football Championship | COSAFA Qualifier, Zimbabwe 2023.
“School-going boys and girls are the bedrock of our vision to create competitive generational teams. We are grateful to CAF & COSAFA for giving us the honour to
host the second edition.
“This tournament gives a lot of football stakeholders encouragement that indeed our football is on the right development track. The participants will be better footballers after the competition because previously they had no opportunity to play competitive national team games.
“This is a lifetime opportunity for us as a country for our boys and girls who did not participate in the inaugural edition. After this tournament, we are confident that everyone will begin to treasure schools’ football because it has great possibilities for the young boys and girls who previously did not have opportunities to play competitive matches.”