Thursday 17 February 2022, 19:00

Education, development and excitement as first schools’ teams arrive in Kinshasa

  • Schools from six member associations taking part in African Schools Champions Cup

  • Teams from Benin, Ethiopia and South Africa jubilant on arrival in Congo DR

  • Two-day tournament starts on 19 February at Stade des Martyrs

As national champions representing their schools, their communities and their countries, the first groups of boys and girls have arrived in Kinshasa for the inaugural staging of the Africa Schools Champions Cup excited at the prospect of an international stage for their development as players and as people.

Representative Under-16 sides from Benin, Ethiopia and South Africa were the first to feel their wheels on the tarmac in Congo DR where the inaugural tournament will be played out over two days and the participants were beaming at the new and exciting opportunities it will give them to expand their horizons through football.

CEG1 Avrankou and CEG1 Dogbo came through the boys and girls qualification tournaments respectively from Benin and the two teams will be supported by the male under-17 national team coach Urbain Honfo and Abdoulaye Ouzérou, who is coach of Benin’s women’s under-20 national team. The two teams travelled together and arrived primed for a life-changing experience.

“It makes me happy being with everyone here today as part of the school championship organised by FIFA,” said CEG1 Dogbo coach Victor Sagbo. “Football can do a lot of things, like the development of young girls. Today, we have a lot of talented girls in the communities and schools and we can develop talent in cooperation with a lot of people and other countries as well.”

Ethiopia men's captain Simon Habtamu

For Ethiopia’s Simon Habtamu, the journey to Kinshasa represented a source of pride, leading his school as captain and participating outside of his country for the first time.

“I want to thank God for giving us this chance to represent our country,” he enthused. It means a lot for all of us, and this team has great energy and a great spirit. All the coaching staff are good, and hopefully we will do a great job here.”

The euphoria was a theme continued by South African coach Khumalo Ntombifuthi, who hailed the tournament’s potential to make long-lasting impressions on his young travelling charges. 

“I don’t want to lie, I’m over the moon for this competition,” said Ntombifuthi. “I would like to thank FIFA, SAFA [South African Football Association] and other stakeholders from education and sports education for making sure this event becomes successful. The kids are so excited and there’s good hope about their development because they understand there’s something more that is coming for them.”

Schools from the three countries will join teams from DR Congo, Morocco and Senegal at the two-day tournament, which kicks off on Saturday February 19 at Stade des Martyrs.  

I’ve come here with the objective of bringing the trophy home to our country.”
Pierrette Chigblo – captain CEG1 Dogbo girls team, Benin