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Malajila ploughs back to Kadoma community

Cuthbert Malajila poses for a group photo with CUMA Football Academy players in Kadoma recently

BY SINDISO DUBE, RECENTLY IN KADOMA

A FOOTBALL revolution is brewing in Kadoma. And the man behind the project to bring back top-flight football to this mining and farming town is none other than one of its finest products in recent years, former Warriors striker Cuthbert Malajila.

Malajila, who recently joined South African Premiership side Black Leopards, is a director of the Kadoma-based CUMA Football Academy, which he co-owns with his friend, Kadoma businessman Herbert Manyowa.

CUMA is derived from their names.

The pair’s youthful CUMA Football Academy side looks on course to gain promotion into the Zifa Northern Region Division One as they are currently setting the pace in the Division Two league after losing only once in 18 matches this season.

Malajila says he hopes the academy project will produce talented young players from Kadoma who will be able to surpass what he has achieved in his career.

“I wanted to give back to the community where I come from and I sat down with Manyowa, who is equally a football fanatic, and we came up with the academy. We are giving back to the people who have supported us growing up,” Malajila told The Sports Hub from Limpopo, South Africa.

“I want to see the young players we are grooming grow into great players who will reach stages beyond where I played. We want them to achieve greater things and also bring back the footballing status in Kadoma. Through our support and that of the community, the boys will make it.

“Our concept is not about football only, but also bettering the lives of the youths, especially in their academics and making sure that their sporting talents are complemented with academic abilities.”

Malajila challenged the local footballing mother body, Zifa, to invest more into junior football development at grassroots level.

“As a country, we have struggled with junior football development and I would say we are not serious with it. I believe every team in the country must have junior structures where they source players from and, if possible, we must have a national junior league,” he said.

“The funding, which comes from Fifa should be invested accordingly because for us to have a stronger senior national structure, we should have set up a stronger foundation, which starts with the grassroots structures. We also have to decentralise football development. We can’t have national juniors coming only from Harare and Bulawayo when we have talented youngsters in other places like Kadoma and other smaller towns.”

Formed in 2012 with Under-13 players, the academy now houses Under-13s, 15s, 19s and 23s.

The founding crop of Under-13s has gone on to be the senior team competing in Division Two and becoming Division One contenders.

Kadoma was known for producing quality players in the years gone by, but now the mining city has become a pale shadow of its former self.

Rimuka Stadium was known as a fortress where Eiffel Flats, a football club popularly known as Flatso, made it difficult for many teams to collect maximum points.

In 1983, they were beaten to the league championship by Dynamos because of an inferior goal difference after they had finished the season with the same number of points as the Glamour Boys.

The likes of Malajila, Norman Komani, Charles Chiutsa, Daniel Zokoto, Supersport FC coach Kaitano Tembo, Hebert Dick, two-time PSL soccer star Rodwell Chinyengetere, Raphael Phiri, Godfrey Mukambi’s footballing roots are grounded in Kadoma and Rimuka Stadium is where their talents were nurtured.

Manyowa and Malajila hope to restore Kadoma’s football legacy through the formation of the academy.

“We started in 2012 with young boys from the Under-14, who are now playing for the senior team, which is in Division Two. We are looking forward to get a very good team originating from Kadoma and also to compete in Division One and also the elite league.”

He added: “We want to restore Kadoma as a football hub like the yesteryears. Our main objective is to produce stars from the mining town like our pay off line says ‘finding stars of tomorrow, today’.

“CUMA is there to groom players from junior level from the city and we are not taking anyone from outside as we want to uplift our own youths,” said Manyowa.

However, the team has accommodated three senior players — former PSL stewards Menard Mupera, Tendai Mukambi and Simbarashe Smoko. Manyowa said they brought them to add the needed experience.

“We are an academy of young players but for us to gain Division One promotion, we need experience, so that’s why we brought in three experienced players to stabilise the team and inspire the youngsters and instil confidence in the boys and we are glad that they have been doing so,” said Manyowa.

The youthful side has shifted base from Rimuka Stadium to Venice Mine Stadium because of the congestion at the former PSL fortress.

“We started off the season playing at Rimuka Stadium, but shifted base to Venice Mine, which is along the Kwekwe road, during the mid-season. Our traditional stadium is now congested with many teams and fixtures every weekend. We have many teams playing in the second division and also we have two teams from Kadoma playing in the first division — all those teams are using Rimuka, so we opted to create space for others and also to ease pressure from ourselves by shifting,” said Manyowa.

Malajila was born and bred in Kadoma where he started his football career in the country’s lower division at David Whitehead Textiles where he worked as a general labourer for 18 months at the fabric and thread producing unit of the company.

After moving to Chapungu, Malajila would go on to become a household name in the domestic league, starring for giants Highlanders and Dynamos.

The hardworking striker’s talents soon attracted interest from beyond the country’s borders after featuring for Club Africain in Tunisia, Akander FC in Libya before moving to South Africa where he played for Maritzburg United, Mamelodi Sundowns and Bidvest Wits before his recent move to Black Leopards.

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