HomeSportZifa should invest in junior football

Zifa should invest in junior football

ON Thursday I took time to visit a number of football academies that are sprouting in the capital city to see what could really be happening there.

Final Whistle with Brian Nkiwane

My first port of call was Churchill Boys High School where I found Aspire Academy doing their daily routine under the former Monomotapa assistant coach George Jojo.
Two minutes after arrival, a parent came to inquire how his six-year-old boys could be incorporated in the structures of the academy.

I then went to Hellenics Sports Club where Friendly Academy was also going through their paces under the watchful eye of former premiership coach Partridge Muskwe.

Not to be outdone was BN Academy who were also doing their daily routine at Belgravia Sports Club.

From what I have seen so far, football academies that are sprouting in the country are playing a major role in filling the gap which has been created by the non-availability of proper junior structures in this country.

Turning the hands of the clock backwards, to around the late 80s, Zimbabwean football had proper junior structures with a proper league as well as a number of sponsors that scrambled to sponsor tournaments.

If I remember well, a number of players that were part of the famous Dream Team came through the ranks of those tournaments and a vibrant junior football league.

The reason why they became a force to reckon with, which most football stakeholders of this age do not seem to understand, was rhythm and continuity.

The proper junior league, tournaments as well as junior national teams structures that were in place made the players a formidable force. Junior football used to be ideal for clubs as teams like Highlanders, CAPS United and Dynamos promoted junior players from their own junior structures, cutting expenditure on buying players, a system most of the clubs are used to today.

It has been evident that the arrangement of buying players has been milking clubs.

Junior football boss Zivanai Chiyangwa tried to revive the policy two years ago, but due to lack of support, the project died a natural death.

Chiyangwa and other coaches had a junior football tournament in Harare where they invited select teams from each province to participate with a number of junior coaches which included Muskwe coming in to assist with the selection of players for different age groups.

The players were selected and teams of different age groups were put in place, but that project has since disappeared.

Zimbabwe junior football embarrassed the nation when Zifa failed to send Under-17s and 20 to reverse fixtures in their respective competitions leading to them being banned from taking part in continental showcases.

The other thing is Zifa appoints PSL coaches to take charge of national junior teams, which I think is wrong.

The tactics are totally different. They should appoint coaches that specialise in junior football. I think it is time that Zifa invested in junior football, revive junior structures from grassroots and level up to the Premiership clubs. Let’s catch them young.

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