CAF African Schools Football Championship takes centre stage in Zanzibar

Oliver Ochieng, bird story agency

Future African football stars are chasing Confederations of African Football (CAF) African Schools Football Championship glory in Zanzibar.

The second edition of the tournament, which got underway on May 21, 2024, features CAF Zonal Union U-15 Boys and Girls champions at Zanzibar’s newly refurbished stadium Amaan, with the final set to be played on May 24, 2024.

Tuesday’s girls’ action saw Togo and Gambia play to a 0-0 draw, before South Africa registered a 1-1 draw against Uganda, while Tanzania managed a hard-fought 1-0 win over Morocco.

Tanzania (blue) in action with Morocco (maroon) during the 2024 African School Football Championship Girls match between Tanzania v Morocco at the Amaan Stadium, Zanzibar on the 21 May 2024 ©Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix

In the boys’ category, Guinea beat Benin 2-1, while South Africa crushed Libya 3-0 in some of the selected results.

The collated results from day one (Tuesday) action are as follows:

Togo 0 – 0 Gambia
South Africa 1 – 1 Uganda
Tanzania 1 – 0 Morocco

Benin 1 – 2 Guinea
South Africa 3 – 0 Libya
Tanzania 0 – 0 Senegal

South Africa (green) in action with Libya (red) during the 2024 African School Football Championship match between South Africa and Libya at the Amaan Stadium, Zanzibar on the 21 May 2024 ©Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix

Former Banyana Banyana player, Amanda Dlamini speaking to CAF online said the equal opportunity the federation is granting both boys and girls bodes well with the growth that African football is currently experiencing.

“I am excited and honored to be part of such an initiative by CAF. We grow up in rural areas without infrastructure, and you probably wait 20 years to get on your first flight to represent your country. Yet CAF, through this tournament has fast-tracked this process for these youngsters and afforded them a unique experience of international football,” she said.

In January 2024, Dlamini made history during the TotalEnergies CAF Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) soccer bonanza in Côte d’Ivoire, by becoming the first woman commentator at CAF’s flagship competition.

She is at the four-day competition as part of the invited CAF legends to share their experience and words of encouragement, to the budding stars.

“I have to commend CAF for ensuring that grassroots football isn’t just about development, but also about giving kids an opportunity to feel represented. Had I had the opportunity for such workshops, it would have prepared me for life after football and other career paths. I am excited that these young girls get to experience football holistically. It’s not just about talent but also career opportunities and the diversity of meeting other young girls,” she added.

On the other hand, former Super Eagles striker Daniel ‘The Bull” Amokachi said he is encouraged by the future of the African game.

“One has to commend the scale of this event. You are talking about over 800,000 learners participating across Africa. Also looking at the prize money involved, it will help in the development of school sport and development in Africa,” said an elated Amokachi.

"Such competitions contribute significantly to the growth of football in Africa. As many witnessed at the recent AFCON, African football is on an exciting rise across all sectors. Having a strong foundation such as this tournament can only benefit African football,” she added.

Before the 14 teams reached the CAF Zonal Union stage in Zanzibar, about 804,480 young boys and girls from 28,862 schools across 44 countries participated in the tourney. CAF says this is an increase of 40% from the previous edition.

South Africa (yellow) celebrate during the 2024 CAF African Schools Football Championship match between South Africa and Uganda in Zanzibar, Tanzania on 21 May 2024 ©Loveness Bernard/BackpagePix

The participating teams are:

**Boys**: Benin (WAFU B), Libya (UNAF), Republic of Congo (UNIFFAC), Senegal (WAFU A), South Africa (COSAFA), Uganda (CECAFA).

**Girls**: Gambia (WAFU A), Morocco (UNAF), Republic of Congo (UNIFFAC), South Africa (COSAFA), Togo (WAFU B), Uganda (CECAFA).

The draw was conducted on May 19, 2024, ahead of the tournament, and here is how groups look like:

**Girls Tournament**:

Group A: Tanzania, Morocco, Congo Republic.

Group B: South Africa, Togo, The Gambia, Uganda.

**Boys Tournament**:

Group A: Tanzania, Senegal, Uganda.

Group B: South Africa, Benin, Guinea, Libya.

On Wednesday, May 22, 2024, Tanzania’s boys’ team qualified for the semis after beating Uganda 1-0, after managing a 0-0 draw against Senegal in the first group game on Tuesday.

South Africa (green) in action with Libya (red) during the 2024 African School Football Championship match between South Africa and Libya at the Amaan Stadium, Zanzibar on the 21 May 2024 ©Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix

Not to be left behind, Tanzania girls’ also booked a semi-final berth, after beating DRC 1-0. The East Africans beat Morocco 1-0 in their opening fixture on Tuesday.

Winners of both the boys’ and girls’ competitions will each receive US$300,000 prize money, with runners-up each receiving US$200,000. Bronze medalists will each take home US$150,000.

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