The CAF African Schools Football Championship | COSAFA Qualifier will light up Lilongwe, Malawi this week as the best young talent from the region gathers to earn a place in the continental finals.
The competing teams have already been through a qualifying process in their own countries, and now meet in the hope of being crowned regional winners in the boys’ and girls’ competitions.
But before the games get under way on Saturday, there will be many off-pitch activities to both set the scene in Lilongwe, and also provide potentially life-changing skills that could steer those who take part on a new path.
These have been organised as a collaboration between COSAFA and the Confederation of African Football (CAF). Here is a quick rundown of the week’s activities.
The draw for the boys’ and girls’ events in Lilongwe will take place on Tuesday at 17h00 CAT when the teams will learn their fate and the competition will begin to take shape.
It is always a tense time ahead of knowing who you will face in competition, but in this instance there is not much preparation work that can be done by coaches on their opponents, given that they will in all likelihood have never seen these players before.
It is all about working on your own game to be ready.
YOUNG REFEREES WORKSHOP
A workshop for young referees will be held from Thursday through to Sunday, giving participants a life-changing opportunity to be schooled by some of the best on the continent and set them on a path to a long career as an official. There will be both a practical and theory element to the course that will be staged over the four days.
YOUNG REPORTERS WORKSHOP
Budding media moguls will be taken through their paces in a workshop for journalists that gives them an insight into every aspect of running a media campaign at a major competition. The workshop will also run from Thursday to Sunday, and has some excellent speakers lined up to teach the youngsters a thing or two about being in the business.
YOUNG COACHES WORKSHOP
A three-day course for young coaches has been arranged from Friday through to Sunday, another excellent chance to upskill budding tacticians through the knowledge and insight of some of the best practitioners on the continent. This is a regular feature at COSAFA events and many a coach has been set on the path to a career in the game via these workshops.
All the boys and girls at the event will be taken through safeguarding activities at some point from Friday through to Sunday to not only provide them with information on the social impact of football, but also explain the measures that CAF have put in place to create a safe environment for the children.
The opening ceremony for the competition will be staged on Saturday at 10h00, which is also the first match day. Games will be played on the weekend, with the finals to be held on Monday next week.