Tafadzwa Tichawangana Sports Correspondent
TENDAI Chatara, Donald Tiripano, Kevin Kasuza and Victor Nyauchi are some of the names that evoke sweet memories of the good old days of developmental cricket in Mutare’s high-density suburbs.
These are products of a deliberate move to spread the game of cricket to marginalised ghettos.
The roots of their success in the gentleman’s game can easily be traced to a highly productive Zimbabwe Cricket scholarship programme.
Alas, this is now all history!
The scholarship programme stopped years ago and the stream that was churning out young talent dried up.
“Since the scholarship programme was stopped, Manicaland has struggled to produce players who have gone on to play at national level. This shows the impact of that programme,” said veteran cricket development coach, Joel Muzeya.
He urged ZC to re-introduce its scholarship programme to complement the club cricket system.
As a junior development coach, Muzeya saw the benefits of the scholarship programme for over a decade, starting in 1995 when he was responsible for identifying upcoming cricketers from Mutare until 2007 when was appointed ZC’s Manicaland development officer.
During that period, he worked with the then junior players, including Chatara, Tiripano, Kasuza and Nyauchi.
All of them came from high-density suburbs of Chikanga and Dangamvura and enrolled at Mutare Boys’ High School on ZC scholarships.
Muzeya said ZC decision’s to abandon the scholarship programme would limit opportunities for players from less privileged backgrounds.
“The ZC scholarship programme was meant to benefit players from less privileged backgrounds as they could not afford to attend better cricket playing schools because of financial reasons.
“Attending these schools allowed the players to have access to better training facilities and qualified coaches. The players would also get more game time, which boosted their development. Without the scholarship programme, many of the players from less-privileged backgrounds will not have access to the opportunities that were previously availed to upcoming players,” he said.
But ZC’s chairman, Tawengwa Mukuhlani recently told our sister paper, Sunday News, that ZC is now looking at capacitating clubs, which have a wide catchment area, as opposed to scholarships that benefit selected individuals.
As part of the proposed club cricket programme set to be introduced by ZC, upcoming players from Under-14 level right up to the senior level will be recruited by the clubs.
“The club cricket system is a very good idea. We actually tried this when I was running the development programme in Manicaland because we wanted to increase the catchment area. However, they must not neglect the school set-up.
“A wider catchment area is good. I believe supporting the school system will not only provide opportunities to players from high-density areas, but provide clubs with a larger base of players,” Muzeya said.
The coach is currently working as a team manager for the Harare-based Alistair Campbell’s High Performance Programme.