Junior development in doldrums: ex-players

Newsday

FORMER Zimbabwe internationals Mkhuphali “Mr Cooper” Masuku and Johannes “Tshisa” Ngodzo believe the country is not doing enough to develop soccer at junior level.

Report by Henry Mhara

They said this during the launch of the Copa Coca-Cola Under-16 tournament at Mzingwane High School in Esigodini yesterday morning.
Tshisa and Mr Cooper were among the stars that graced the occasion.

Other prominent football faces that attended are Young Warriors and Chicken Inn coach Mandla Mpofu, Chicken Inn star midfielder Kuda Mahachi and Highlanders secretary-general Andrew Tapela.

Tshisa, who won the Copa Coca-Cola tourney with Mzilikazi High School in 1999, said nothing much had been happening at grassroots level and this reflected in the poor performances of the Warriors.

“We grew up knowing this competition is the only schools competition.

I think we can do more as a country. There is so much talent in schools and the young players need a platform to show it. Copa Coca-
Cola alone is not enough, we need other sponsors to come on board. If we can have two more schools tournaments, I think we can do well in the senior teams,” said Ngodzo.

Masuku said: “Coca-Cola is doing a wonderful job in sponsoring this tournament, but I think there are still grey areas which need to be addressed especially on the schools side. The schools need to engage qualified coaches and former players to coach these youngsters from this level. It is a very important stage for a player’s development.

This is where it all starts, so they should be given the right guidance at an early stage.”

Coca-Cola senior franchise brand manager Mona Karingi said her company was proud to be part of developing soccer from the grassroots level. “Let us enhance our focus on the youth, grow their talent and hence guarantee their future,” Karingi said.

The draw for this year’s tournament was held at the launch. In the boys’ category, defending champions Mzingwane were drawn in Group A where they will face provincial winners from Mashonaland West and the Midlands. Hosts of this year’s finals Sakubva High School of Mutare were pooled in Group C and will face winners from Mashonaland East and Masvingo.

Group B has Manicaland, Bulawayo and Matabeleland North while Harare, Mashonaland Central and Matabeleland South make up Group D.

In the girls’ category, two-time defending champions Vainona of Harare lead Group A, which has Matabeleland North and Matabeleland South as other group members.

Host province Manicaland will provide two teams which were seeded in Group B and D. Mashonaland East and Midlands complete Group B while Masvingo and Mashonaland Central are other provinces in Group D. Group B has Harare, Bulawayo and Mashonaland West.

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