BY KENNETH NYANGANI
NEWLY-formed and Mutare-based football academy Manicaland Juniors Football of Excellency has set sights on becoming the country’s junior football hub after it opened its doors to 30 players last month.
The academy, which operates mainly at Mutare Sports Club, is one of the best equipped in the country and is looking to foster ties with other such institutions outside the country.
Already, they have a plan to tap into the experience and expertise of stars such as Willard Katsande when he is not engaged at his club Kaizer Chiefs, in South Africa.
The Manicaland Juniors Football of Excellency chief executive officer Charles Chave said the academy’s main goal was to identify and nurture talent in the province.
“We realised that players are not growing up in a proper professional football manner and we are looking to provide the right environment and conditions. We are targeting the 15 to 19 years age group,” Chave said. “We have young players who are coming from disadvantaged families, including orphaned and vulnerable children. We have not joined any league at the moment, but we will be competing against other academies in the country.”
He added: “The players go to gym every week, but we train during weekends and some week days. We want to tap them young. We already have some links with some academics in the United Kingdom and South Africa.
“We have already identified two players who are going to South Africa next year and they are expected to commence their secondary education there,” he added.
The club technical department is headed by Samuel Kabwe, who used to play for the now-defunct Motor Action in the top-flight league.
Kabwe said he wants to fulfil his passion of coaching the highest level football.
“When I was called to head our technical department, I had to grab the opportunity with both hands. There is a lot of talent in the province and we are also looking at keeping the kids away from drug abuse among other immoralities, ” he said
“We are targeting a small group of 40 players, but so far we have 30 players I am working with and I believe they are motivated to do well since they are provided with everything here.”