AT least 168 youth teams have turned up for the 10th Anniversary of the East African Football tournament, with Kenya breaking record by fielding 114 teams.
Kenya with over 1500 players here, it has covered the entire span ranging from Under-7 all the way to those playing in the U- 20 years and below.
Being the defending champions, the neighbouring country seems set to retain the crown this year again.
Hosts, Mainland Tanzania has 52 teams, Zanzibar has two, while Rwanda, Uganda and Zambia teams that had previously announced participation have all pulled out of the tournament, citing financial problems.
“Still we have more teams this year than last year’s event,” said the Organizer of the event, Alfred Itaeli, adding that in total there are over 3000 players taking part in the 2019 event.
The Director of ‘Fountain Gate’ Academy, from Dodoma, Japhet Makau said here that they are participating for the first time with the U-13 team, accompanied by other youth who are in Arusha to learn about the tournament.
“We are surprised to learn that Kenya has more teams than the hosting country indicating that, Tanzania is still lagging behind in sports,” said Makau.
The Tanzania Football Federation (TFF), Technical Director Oscar Mirambo, lauded the youth sports programmes such as Chipkiz Cup, saying the events not only help to identify talented players but also maintain health and good cooperation among young people from different regions and countries.
He said TFF will slot the Chipkizi Cup into its annual calendar of events to make it officially recognised.
Organised by the Arusha-based, sporting talent recruiting and promotional institution of Future Stars Academy (FSA), the annual East African Youth Football Tournament, usually bring to Arusha teams from, Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda, Zambia, Burundi and Zanzibar, as well as the host Tanzania Mainland.
Locals teams include the host, Future Stars Academy, Upendo Friends School, Arusha Soccer Center, Arusha Youth Development, UWC (former International School of Moshi), Tanzanite, New Vision and Arusha Meru International all from Arusha Region.
Other teams and regions they come from include Fountain Gate (Dodoma), Azam FC and Magnet Academy (Dar es Salaam), Singida United (Singida), Black Rhinos (Kilimanjaro) and defending champions JKU from Zanzibar.
Staged at the Tanganyika Game Trackers (TGT) grounds from last Tuesday to today, the Chipkizi Cup marks its 10th anniversary. In the first match, Fountain Gate beat ‘Moi Education Center,’ of Kenya 1-0.
The Director of Future Stars, Alfred Itaeli stated here that for the last ten years, the event produced a number of promising youth footballers.
Last year it was Kenya which dominated, topping the U-13 category for both boys and girls teams. Zanzibar’s JKU won the U-20 slot.