Coca-Cola Cup from May 24

LALITPUR: All Nepal Football Association (ANFA) is organising the Coca Cola Cup Inter-school National Football Tournament from May 24.

The first round of the tournament will be held in six different venues across the country -- Nepalgunj from May 24, Pokhara from May 25, Butawal from May 26, Biratnagar from May 27, Kathmandu and Dhangadi from May 29.

In all, 450 schools are taking part in the tournament, said the organisers at a press meet today. The number of confirmed schools are 198 in Kathmandu, 20 each in Nepalgunj and Dhangadi, 80 in Pokhara, 72 in Biratnagar and 30 in Butwal, informed the organisers.

The top 12 teams -- four from Kathmandu, three from Biratnagar, two from Pokhara and one each from Nepalgunj, Butwal and Dhangadi -- will qualify for the final round of the tournament to be held in Kathmandu. The dates are yet to be confirmed for the league-cum-knock out final round. The 12 teams will be divided into four groups and top team each from all the pools will make it to the semi-finals, said Dhirendra Pradhan, Joint Secretary of ANFA in a release.

The winners will receive Rs 200,000, while the runners up will earn Rs 100,000. The third and fourth-placed teams will also get Rs 50,000 and Rs 25,000 respectively. The organisers will bear all the transportation and the accomodation costs for the team making it to the final round. Talented players of the tournament will also get a chance to be selected in the training camps for the upcoming AFC Under-16 and U-19 Championships qualifiers to be held in Kathmandu in October.

According to the organisers, the total estimated budget of the tournament is Rs 1.8 million. The ANFA and Bottlers Nepal Limited signed the Memorandum of Understanding for the tournament. ANFA President Ganesh Thapa and Managing Director of Bottlers Nepal Limited Saumindra Bhattacharya signed and exchanged the MoU. As per the agreement, the main sponsors -- Bottlers Nepal Limited -- will provide Rs 1.5 million to ANFA. The remaining amount of Rs 300,000 will be borne by the organisers.

Bhattacharya vowed to give continuity to the association with the football and ANFA. "This is the fourth year in running and we are proud to have such association with us. Coca Cola will remain associated with football and ANFA," said Bhattacharya. "We have chosen football, team game, and we want to take sport to every nook and corner of the country," he added.

ANFA president Thapa said schools all over the country were excited to take part in the prestigeous tournament. "We are committed to the well-managed tournament to find out football talents," Thapa added. He also said the ANFA would run academies in Dharan and Butwal from this year. "We are also planning to establish two other academies in Far-Eastern Region and Mid-Western Region," said Thapa.