Battle of the top academies

Prince Mukuna Sports Reporter
ON  the day that the Warriors will be getting yet another stern test of their pedigree to qualify for the African Cup of Nations away in DRC, the country’s next generation of players will be showcasing their talents at the Legends of Tomorrow Under-18 tournament at Hellenic in Eastlea.

The Warriors will be in Kinshasa on Saturday night for a potentially Blood and Thunder Nations Cup Group G tie against DRC as both sides seek to consolidate their march towards qualification for the two pool slots to next year’s finals in Cameroon.

But back home, the conveyor belt from which talent to the senior side is generated, will be on show as Legends Academy, one of the finest youth development projects to emerge in the capital lately, host some of the best young crop of players in Harare.

The ZIFA-sanctioned day-long tournament will involve teams which include Aces Youth Academy, who are famed for producing such top Warriors stars like skipper Knowledge Musona, goalkeeper George Chigova and Khama Billiat.

The other teams are Dzivarasekwa, Epworth Pirates and hosts Legends Academy.

Host founder and coach Farai Dhliwayo said yesterday that the tournament also aims at providing a forum where local young players can challenge themselves, test their abilities and improve as footballers as they play against the best players.

Dhliwayo said the tourney was about more than winning a cup as much of the focus would be on the best Harare Under-18 talent that will be on show for 2018.

“The work being done by the management and coaches at each of these academies is superb and every academy has fantastic players

“It will be great for the Under -20 that will go for COSAFA in December to have at least 5-10 Under-18 players in the squad so that they can also gain tournament experience and create continuity for next year.

“I think that will ensure that we will be better prepared and still have some players who would be eligible to play”, said Dhliwayo.

Dhliwayo noted with concern that the manner in which such teams like Malawi and Swaziland had surpassed Zimbabwe at youth tournaments such as the COSAFA Under-17 and Under-20.

“We need to showcase these boys so we can push that mini-league agenda and this time one league focused on Boys aged between 18-21.

“This is the critical age group stuck between academy football and league football.

“In South Africa they have established the Multi-Choice Disk-league and even in Europe they have a Euro Under-23 league as they have realised that player’s physiology and mentality for league football is only fully developed by the age of 21 and 22”, Dhliwayo said.

Meanwhile, another Harare development project — Galaxy Academy will have a rare experience when they travel to Zambia for that country’s Independence celebrations on October 23.

The Barclays Sports Club-based academy will travel with 13 players for the annual celebrations to be held in Lusaka on October 25.

Fungai Kamwazha the academy coach said they are looking forward to a successful trip and to win the Under-12 age group.

“We are looking forward to our trip to Zambia where we were invited for the country’s Independence celebrations.

“We are looking forward to carry at least 13-players for the tournament and make sure that they learn something from it.

“Our aim is to develop youngsters to become the next professional footballers and allow them to concentrate on both sport and academics.

“We have been doing well since our formation in 2009 and we had some Under-seven age group who have already grown up and are now playing for the Under-14 teams. We seek to create a conducive environment and take the young players out of the streets as well as from drug abuse.

“Our teams have been excelling in many tournaments and we are looking forward to return home with medals from the Zambia trip,” said Kumwazha.

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