Moffat Mungazi Sports Correspondent
HAVING left a mark on the pitch, former Warriors midfielder, Lazarus “Mali” Muhoni has set sights on making a difference on the other side of the game — the office.
Since hanging up his boots, the Mutare-born football star has made significant strides in becoming an astute football administrator and player agent.
Driven by his passion for the game, Muhoni is embarking on an audacious project to raise the profile of several budding Manicaland footballers.
He has been involved with Premiership side Manica Diamonds and other clubs.
“I am just getting started, but I am happy with the progress so far. I am primarily targeting young talent. I identify them and help them kick-start their professional careers. At that age they need hand-holding in order to avoid the pitfalls many of them are susceptible to,” said the retired star, who was among the pioneering cast that helped Zimbabwe qualify for a maiden Afcon finals appearance in 2004.
“As a former footballer, I have been there before. I watched some promising players wasting away and falling by the wayside as they failed to launch their careers. This is what needs to be avoided. This is an exciting mission,” an effervescent Muhoni said.
He added that for players to succeed, talent alone is not enough.
“Budding players need to be properly nurtured,” he said.
The former Buffaloes midfielder is prepared to combine forces with various soccer academies dotted across the province to groom the young players.
In his grand scheme of things, Muhoni intends to promote Manicaland as a cradle for national talent, whose infinite supply continuously churns out future stars.
The Premiership is presently replete with players who were either born or raised in the diamond-mining province, namely Phenias Bamusi (CAPS United), Liberty Chakoroma (Chicken Inn), Nyasha Chintuli, Chang Mariyoni, Anelka Chivandire, Tendai Matindife (all Ngezi Platinum Stars) and Blessing Mwandimutsira (Black Rhinos), among others.
For Muhoni, charity indeed begins at home. His teenage son Royce is a budding footballer and Muhoni is grooming the Mutare Boys’ High student into a star.
Royce has been with La-Sakubva and Manica Diamonds and has already made the national grade after turning out for Zimbabwe’s Under-15 team at a continental competition in Kenya.
His father is already dreaming of brighter days.
“I made my top-flight debut with Tanganda in 1992 when I was doing my Form Three at Elise Gledhill. My son is taking the same route,” said Muhoni.