Ray Bande Senior Reporter
THE country’s football governing body, Zifa, is reviving junior football structures across the country with the latest formation of provincial youth affairs and development committees tasked to oversee regional Under-15 leagues that will culminate into the creation of one national Under-15s inter-provincial league.
The Under-15 provincial leagues are set to start competitive matches next month.
At a time when top-flight league teams are battling to keep their heads above water, let alone national teams struggling to fulfil fixtures owing to 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 the performance of teams in the domestic Premiership where kindergarten and basic ball controlling skills are evidently lacking among many players.
However, the Felton Kamambo-led Zifa administration has finally done the right thing in turning its attention to 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 on Sunday morning announced the appointment of Farai Tswatswa, Evelyn Mandigo, Albert Chataika, Farai Musariyarwa, Masimba Chihowa, Vitalis Charavore, Gift Mapinda and Owen Sango into the provincial committee.
After the committees’ inaugural meeting, Mapinda was named chairman, Chirenje was given the vice chairman’s post, Musariyarwa was named the secretary-general while Chataika was handed the fixtures secretary portfolio.
Manica Diamonds administrator Owen Sango will beresponsible for the marketing office while the ZCDC Manica Diamonds FC club chairman Chihowa was apointed board member development for boys with Mandigo coming in as board member development for girls.
Tswatswa is also a board member.
Mapinda, a tried and trusted team manager who did wonders with Manicaland Youth Games team back in 2009 in Marondera and the following year, said theirs is a mammoth task that will be made easier due to existing junior league structures.
“I think we have a mammoth task that will be made easier because of unregistered existing junior league structures. In Manicaland, we have several junior leagues that are already functional but not properly registered with the mother body.
“Therefore, we will have to take advantage of such structures especially in Mutare and Chipinge. However, that does not mean we will not look elsewhere in districts such as Makoni, Chimanimani, Mutasa, Nyanga and Buhera.
“This is a noble idea that deserves the support of all progressive football enthusiasts. We will certainly enjoy the fruits of this initiative in the not-so-distant future because this is what was lacking in our football as far as national team performance as well as Premiership clubs’ performance are concerned,” said Mapinda.
In his address at the provincial launch of the project on Sunday, Zifa Eastern Region chairman Muchena said the leagues will initially accommodate 10 teams in each of the boys’ and girls’ leagues.
Zifa is set to bankroll the leagues by providing equipment, which includes playing kit, balls and medals, as well as paying referees’ fees and the leagues’ administration dues.