BY TERRY MADYAUTA
ZIFA have taken the first step towards reviving junior football development nationwide following a successful outreach programme to pave way for the launch of the Provincial Under-15 Junior Football League in Gweru yesterday.
The local football motherbody has channeled funds and football equipment towards the resuscitation of the leagues, which had been neglected over the years due to financial constraints, mismanagement of funds amongst a plethora of drawbacks.
Speaking at a Zifa Youth Development Outreach meeting in Gweru yesterday, Zifa Central Region chairman Stanley Chapeta the league platform is aimed at identifying and nurturing talent at a tender age for the development of a strong football base in the country.
The leagues which begin next month are set to have Under-15 teams and will fall under provincial structures with each province having its own league while identified from the leagues are expected to feed into national teams and the Premier Soccer League.
Zifa will support each team through providing equipment, payment of referees’ fees and also meet the administration costs for running the league.
“This is a trial that comes after so many years without any formally recognised juniors leagues. Zifa has availed funds for this project, to cater for transport, allowances, kits and training equipment for the youngsters,” said Chapeta.
“It might take long for this to be successful and be in full swing but we hope administrators will put all their effort in all provinces so that we create a ready-made platform where scouts and coaches will tap in talent easily.
“So, many countries have yielded good results because they promoted junior development. Look at the likes of Nigeria and Brazil who have been winning because of grooming talent at a tender age.”
The provincial leagues will consist of 10 teams that will battle it out for honours with teams from other provinces in a host of tournaments that are lined up this year.
Zifa’s youth development representative in the Midlands province, Artwell Moyo revealed plans to establish more developmental leagues.
“This is just the start. There are plans to come up with Under-20, Under-13 leagues but this one is the first step. We will expand in the future, hoping that these efforts will help the nation build a strong and organised base to tap talent from.”