A TOTAL of 20 teams — 10 for boys and 10 for girls — have been identified from different districts across the province and are now waiting for the kick-off of the Manicaland Juniors League inaugural season.
Zifa Manicaland chairman, Kuziwa Nyabeze said they had identified the teams from existing clubs and academies in Manicaland.
Nyabeze said the teams are ready to compete in the first ever provincial junior league.
“We identified the teams from existing clubs and academies in Manicaland. This made our work easier and ensured that we save time and resources in assembling new teams.
“We are all now waiting for the post Covid-19 era where we hope to start our league matches. This is an achievement for the current Zifa board and it will go a long way in promoting and nurturing talents from grassroots,” said Nyabeze.
The 20 Under-15 teams were selected from Chipinge, Chimanimani, Mutasa, Rusape, Buhera, Marange as well as Mutare which has the bulk of the participating teams.
The country’s football governing body, Zifa early this year stepped-up efforts to revive junior football with the formation of provincial youth affairs and development committees across the country tasked to have regional Under-15 leagues.
At a time when top-flight league teams are battling to keep head above water, let alone national teams struggling to fulfil fixtures owing to the harsh economic conditions, junior football in Zimbabwe is actually in the intensive care unit with little, if any, activity being witnessed to develop talent at grassroots level.
The trend has reflected badly on performance of teams in the Premiership where kindergarten and basic ball controlling skills are lacking among many players.
However, the Felton Kamambo-led Zifa administration finally did the right thing in putting its attention on the revival of junior football in the country.
In Manicaland, just like other provinces, Zifa appointed personalities with a junior football background into the interim regional committees.
Zifa Eastern Region chairman, Davison Muchena in March announced the appointment of Farai Tswatswa, Evelyn Mandigo, Albert Chataika, Farai Musariyarwa, Masimba Chihowa, Vitalis Charavore, Gift “The Transporter” Mapinda and Owen Sango into the provincial committee.
After the committees’ inaugural meeting, Mapinda was named chairman, Chirenje (vice-chairman), Musariyarwa (secretary), while Chataika (fixtures secretary).
Manica Diamonds administrator, Owen Sango will be responsible for the marketing office, while the ZCDC-bankrolled club chairman, Masimba Chihowa was accommodated as a board member development for boys and Mandigo coming in as board member development for girls.
Tswatswa is also a board member.
Mapinda is a tried and tested team manager who had a hugely successful stint with the Manicaland Youth Games team in 2009 in Marondera and the following year, in both occasions working alongside Tenax gaffer, Shadreck Mugurasave.