GLENDALE is a very small community in Mashonaland with less than 10 000 inhabitants.
BY MUNYARADZI MADZOKERE
From this community hails little-known 2016 Nash Copa Coca-Cola Under-16 boys champions, Rujeko High School, which is run by a female principal.
Headmistress Whitney Mabika (pictured right) glowed with pride as Rujeko High School painted Glendale red — the Copa Coca-Cola colour — as the institution hosted the launch of this year’s remodeled competition.
After all, the name Rujeko is synonymous with glow and brightness.
“I am extremely happy because when you look at a woman head winning that great trophy, it’s an amazing achievement. And again hosting a mega colourful launch like this today, people expect men to do this, not women,” she told Sports World on the sidelines of the Copa Coca-Cola launch last Wednesday.
“This is testimony that there are women who can match or even better their male counterparts in such domains. That is the spirit I instill in these children, that excellence is in you, not in the place where you are and that has made us grow into a fierce competitor in ball games in this nation.”
Rujeko High School was established in 1981, with an enrollment of 60 students and has since grown, enrolling 1381 pupils.
It was a long road for the school on their way to Copa Coca-Cola success last year, having come close in the previous competition and only falling in the final.
“It’s not only in soccer where we have excelled, but also in handball. We won a silver and bronze medal at national level. Don’t forget that we have finished as runners-up in Copa Coca-Cola before,” she said.
“We are shining because our name ‘Rujeko’ entails that we should shine all the time, so we have agreed as a school to totally commit ourselves to excellence. We are still moving forward and expecting to get the Copa Coca-Cola trophy again this year.”
Mabika revealed that apart from the shower rooms for athletes that have been built by Coca-Cola following their success, Rujeko High School was now the most sought-after school in Mashonaland Central and surrounding areas with a boom in enrollment in the past year.
With the Copa Coca-Cola, now an Under-15 tournament, starting this year, Rujeko High School is assured of a place in the finals to be played on July 21 and 22 at Chipadze High School in Bindura.
In a draw that was done at the launch, Rujeko High School were drawn in Group D where they will meet winners from Midlands and Masvingo.
Rujeko High School coach Hardware Chatora, who is eyeing another successful campaign, revealed the secret that makes his team tick.
“We train throughout the year. We don’t wait for the soccer season like most schools. Last year we joined a junior league in this province so we have youngsters who are comfortable on the ball and they also have endurance,” he said.