Tadious Manyepo Sports Reporter
DEFENDER Raymond Uchena was yesterday honoured for the outstanding role he played for Harare City throughout the season when he landed the club’s Player of the Year award.
The tough as teak centre-back, who formed a solid partnership with Munyaradzi Diro-Nyenye, was honoured along with other teammates at the team’s awards ceremony which also saw players from the women’s team being rewarded.
Uchena was virtually flawless at the heart of Mark Harrison’s team in a season they largely punched above their weight.
Harare City were expected to struggle in the Premiership, having only bounced back from a near flirtation with Division One football after being relegated last season.
They only returned to the top-flight on Premier Soccer League’s invitation which followed the disbandment of How Mine two weeks before the season commenced.
But, they gave a good account of themselves, finishing the marathon on ninth place and reaching the final of the Chibuku Super Cup where they lost to Triangle.
The Sunshine Boys then decided yesterday that it was time to celebrate their achievement, with club chairman Alois Masepe saying the team needed to cheer milestones attained this season.
Besides the 28-year old Uchena, right-back Takudzwa Chimwemwe also capped a largely successful season when he won the Players’ Player accolade.
Chimwemwe was part of the all-conquering Warriors side which won the COSAFA tournament in Polokwane, South Africa this year.
As had been expected, forward William Manondo was honoured for his Chibuku Super Cup exploits as the tournament’s best player and top scorer, while the improving Wilfred Muvirimi walked away with the top-scorer’s award.
Muvirimi scored seven goals to help the Sunshine City Boys finish in the top half of the table.
National Under-20 talisman Tatenda Tumba won the Rookie of the Year gong, with Tellmore Pio bagging the Most Disciplined Player medal, while Learnmore Muyambo claimed the Most Improved Player’s prize.
For the women’s team, who only won promotion into the Super League this season and finished second behind Black Rhinos, striker Rewesai Matseneki emerged the biggest winner as she took home the Player of the Year award as well as the Golden Boot title.
Their Most Improved Player was Pamela Mhlanga, with Seni Kuiswa named the Most Disciplined Player.
While congratulating the winners, Masepe said his club was committed to improving the quality of football in the country, starting from the grassroots.
Harare City have made huge strides in incorporating juniors in their structures.
They have a reserve side playing in the first division, which is the same scenario with the women.
Harare City also have academy players who are enrolled at Waddilove High School. Masepe said no real development will take place unless clubs start developing players from the grassroots.
“We are proponents of development. We preach grassroots development. First things first. What we are saying is, a club cannot afford to skip a certain stage of development.
“Players must be nurtured right from a tender age up until they mature.
“That’s how they can fully grow in terms of technique,” said Masepe.
“Football is very scientific and it ought to be treated as such. There are no short cuts in the game, hence we are saying at Harare City, we need to develop players from a tender age.
“We are seconding academy players with our twin partners Waddilove in our bid to have a complete product. We will continue doing that as we want to set high standards for the team in particular and the country in general.”
The municipal club also conducted the inter-council primary schools’ tournament last week as they cast their selection net wider.
Warren Park 4 won the girls category, while Kuwadzana 2 emerged the winners in the boys’ section.
Meanwhile, ambitious side Ngezi Platinum Stars also honoured their players to celebrate a season they finished second to FC Platinum.
Ngezi sacked coach Tonderai Ndiraya just five games before the season concluded as they got desperate to win the title, but his replacement Clifton Kadurira could not strike the right chords.
But they were still happy with their second-place finish and saluted the players for their fight.
Godknows Murwira landed the Best Player award, while speedster Michael Charamba was voted the Players’ Player of the Season.
Kenneth Bulaji, who had a good season, took home the Most Disciplined Player’s title, with Keith Murera being rewarded for his commitment to the platinum miners’ cause as he won the Loyalty accolade.
Abrahama Chaodza and Alvin Twayo took home the Rookie of the Year and the Player of the Year (development) respectively.
There was also the Supporter of the Year prize for Ruth Mugwagwa, who watched virtually all the team’s games throughout the season.