Ricky Zililo, Senior Sports Reporter
TWENTY footballers from Bulawayo and Hwange are in line for five Payne Global Sports’ USA Soccer Scholarships after impressing visiting renowned US football development coach David Casper during trials held on Friday and Saturday.
Casper, from the University of Kentucky, conducted trials at Milton High School in Bulawayo on Friday which drew 200 participants and concluded his tour of Zimbabwe with another session at the Colliery Stadium on Saturday.
Lovemore Dube, Payne Global Sports’ local agent, said 12 players impressed Casper at Milton and eight out of 80 that attended the tryouts in Hwange would also be considered for the US scholarships.
“He (Casper) needs about five to seven foreign players for next season on full scholarship. A decision should be made on the successful athletes in about 10 days’ time.
“About 20 footballers from Hwange and Bulawayo were shortlisted, but the coach will only make a decision after having a look at Cameroonian players tomorrow,” said Dube.
Casper flew out of Harare to Cameroon yesterday.
The trials held in Bulawayo and Hwange were open to footballers between the ages of 16 and 20.
All the 20 shortlisted youngsters were required to possess at least five O-Levels and they now stand a chance of being selected for life changing university scholarships worth $200 000 should they be selected.
About the trials, Dube said: “The two-day trials were a great success from our perspective as Payne Global Sports.
“We managed to bring a scout from a top university in the US. That there were 200 boys in Bulawayo and 80 in Hwange was a great success on its own.
“That the event took place is something to celebrate as some people’s sons will benefit and the game of football will gain. We are not perfect and we can draw lessons for a better event.
“We remain committed to helping identify athletes for future development (and) we hope for better collaboration with associations and colleges to unearth gems like what we did with Lewis Banda in 2003,” said Dube.
Arnold Payne, a former Zimbabwe 400m record holder, who also represented the country at the All-Africa Games, Commonwealth Games and World Championships, heads the Payne Global Sports division which seeks to provide a platform for promising athletes to advance their talent and academics in the United States.