One of the graduates from his academy Ali Sundowns, Misheck Mburayi, was the toast of the day helping Highlanders to secure maximum points on an away trip after beating Gunners 1-2.
His performance earned him a call to the Young Warriors camp ahead of their match against Botswana at home. Mburayi did not disappoint as he played well when the Young Warriors trounced the Young Zebras 4-1 at Rufaro.
Ali, a banking executive told Standardsport that nurturing young players was close to his heart.
“We used to know that schools like Mzilikazi in Bulawayo, Churchill, Prince Edward and others in Harare would produce a gem of players into our local league. But with the economic background that the country is coming from, I cannot blame them because things were not well,” Ali said.
Ali added that schools were limiting soccer time only to second term, hence there was not much time for talent identification as compared to the good olden days when soccer would be played from January to December.
Ali owns a football academy called Ali Sundowns which has age groups ranging from Under 10, 12, 14, 16 and 18 which has taken over the production of players into the main league.
“I have discovered that there is much talent in the country. I have come up with Ali Sundowns to nurture the raw talent that is abundant. My academy has produced more that 30 players so far who are playing in different Division One leagues around the country. To add on to this, I have players like Mburayi who has became a darling at Highlanders, Godknows Mangani at CAPS United and Clive Boroma at Blue Ribbon,” Ali said.
But Ali attributed all this to commitment; “For one to do all this, they need a lot of cash to develop structures, special courses for the entire technical team and day-to-day living of the players. As I speak, we have a Division Two side playing in the Harare district. We are looking forward to a number of the players playing in the league next year.”
Ali bemoaned the lack of proper junior structures in the country; “From my understanding, junior football gets grants from Fifa but we have never heard about the money being forwarded to the rightful category. I salute football leadership in High Glen where they have an organised district league, the leaders have the game of football at heart,” added Ali.
His love for football has been on his finger tips as he is the man who was behind the BancABC eighth-team tournament that premier league clubs have been playing for the past years.