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Ray of hope in football blackout
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Ray of hope in football blackout

Ray of hope in football blackout

Phil Jambaya

Isaac Mabaya

 

Issac Mabaya's debut in Liverpool colours when Jurgen Klopp's side played arch-rivals Manchester United in a pre-season match a fortnight ago announced the arrival of yet another Zimbabwean on the international football scene.

"Our future is so bright, we have teenagers plying their trade in top flight leagues. It gives us hope as a nation that our football is going on the right direction,” said veteran football administrator Charles Chuma.

Mabaya had a steady performance in his debut match, despite Liverpool's 0-4 loss at the hands of the Red Devils in the match played inThailand. 

Zimbabweans quickly took to social media celebrating the boy.

With no international games and a lackluster local league, it is not surprising to find Zimbabweans taking any chance to rally to the flag.

The rising stars

Mabaya is not the only teenager who has given hope for Zimbabwe which is currently under suspension from FIFA.

Bill Antonio

Bill Antonio (19) of Dynamos who was also part of the Warriors provisional squad for Africa Cup of Nations earlier  has been called for a six week trial stint with Belgian top-flight football side KV Mechelen.

Antonio hopes to follow old great Moses Chunga- also from Dynamos-  to a top-flight football side in Belgium

Prince Ndlovu

Highlanders have just released a future hit prediction in the form of Prince Ndlovu. At 16 years and 170 days, Prince is now the youngest player to be promoted to the first team in the club.

He beats yesteryear legend Peter ‘Nsukuzonke’ Ndlovu’s record by eight days. Coming from the same Mzilikazi High School that Peter emerged from, expectations are high that Prince will also become an international sensation. 

But will they fly the flag for Zim?

The question that many soccer fans are now asking is not whether these young players will become international stars at one level or another. 

Rather the main question is whether they will ever get a chance to don the national colours. 

The Zimbabwe Football Association (ZIFA) debacle which has resulted in the country being thrown out of international football does not appear set for resolution any time soon.

No one in administration seems to care that they are disadvantaging a whole generation by denying them an opportunity to play for the national team.

Not only are the players missing on the glory of patriotic missions, they are also shut out from platforms where international talent spotters shop for the next generation of stars.

“It is only the administrators who need to put their house in order," said Charles Chuma.

 

Fixing the whole system

While the national suspension is the sorest point, many football stakeholders believe that the whole soccer administration needs an urgent overhaul. 

Starting with ensuring opportunities for all potential talent to thrive.

One man who believes that the future lies in the effective nurturing of the young is Zivanai Chiyangwa, popularly known as Man Zifa.

The football development enthusiast has called for the reintroduction of primary school leagues, saying that these used to be effective talent development spaces.

"We had players from Under 8, 10, we started from clubs playing tennis balls for basic ball controlling which will make it easier for one to do the basic controlling at a tender age.

"We also had competitive inter-district games, we could know junior players from other clubs like Wankie, Highlander,” Chiyangwa said.

"If you check on the history of teams like Dynamos the likes of Edward Katsvere rose through the ranks.

“Back then primary school football had a full season where they played home and away matches unlike today they play knockouts.”

Chiyangwa says that investment in sport infrastructure for development by local authorities should not be viewed as optional, but a standard service delivery pillar. 

“Council should invest in infrastructure to cater for junior football and clubs should also develop players using their structures," said Chiyangwa. 

Former Dynamos gaffer Loyd Chingowe said there is need to invest much in junior football if the country wants to reach the levels of the Dream Team and other past glorious national squads, then go beyond.

"We need better infrastructure to promote junior football, we have talent but sometimes we fail to nurture it because of different  reasons where sometimes  these kids lack proper training  facilities and resources  like corns, football  boots, bibs, etc.

We call upon relevant stakeholders to invest more in junior football," Chingowe said.

The fields remain fertile

The good thing for Zimbabwe is that football is still the most popular game. There are thousands and thousands of young people who dream of one day playing professionally. 

Drive around the country on weekends, especially Sunday, in the different areas like the high-density suburbs, rural areas, and commercial farms. Sooner rather than later, you will see a crowd watching young people play their hearts out on a soccer field. 

What may differ is the standard of the facility and whether there is a proper kit. But what is undeniable is the passion in both the players and the spectators. It is as high as that experience during any English Premier League match.

Some of these matches are sponsored by various benefactors who occasionally bring about some tournaments and other incentives.

With an effective administration, it is easy to harness all that energy and make Zimbabwe a respectable football nation once again.

Recent Comments

  • 7/30/2022

    LediSoul

    Well done Zim now. It's great to see a business rising from the ground up. There're no limits,no boundaries. Keep shining your light, soon you'll be making waves, scaling greater heights.Sisonke...

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