Collin Matiza Sports Editor
EPWORTH football fans are once again in for a treat this Saturday when they converge at Kubatana Primary School for the finals of the fourth edition of the Mwalimu Kumbula Soccer Tournament. The finals are set to start at 9am.
The tournament, which was inaugurated in 2015, is the brainchild of one of Epworth’s most illustrious sons — Musekiwa Kumbula — who named it after his son Mwalimu when he discovered the passion he had for football and felt the urge to uplift the community by giving opportunities to young, talented footballers there.
Musekiwa Kumbula told The Herald yesterday that there will be three finals for three age-groups – Under-14, Under-17 and seniors – at this year’s tournament.
The teams for this year’s Mwalimu Kumbula tournament were once again drawn from the ZIFA Epworth Area Zone League and the league’s chairman, Innocent Chinosengwa, said yesterday that 35 sides were involved in the preliminary rounds of this event.
“In the Under-14s we had nine teams and an equal number of teams in the Under-17 section while in the seniors, we had 17 teams taking part.
“And what we did is that we had four groups of four teams for the seniors who played in a round-robin format and the top two teams in each group automatically qualified for the semi-finals where Liverpool Stars and Chiremba FC emerged as the finalists for this Saturday’s final.
“We used the same format for the Under-14s and 17s; and the final of the former age-group will feature Liverpool Stars and Chiremba FC while the final of the latter age-group will see Liverpool Stars battling it out for the top honours with Epworth Saints,” Chinosengwa said.
He also said that preparations for this Saturday’s finals were at an advanced stage and urged the soccer-loving community of Epworth to come in their hundreds to watch this football fiesta at Kubatana Primary School.
The Mwalimu Kumbula soccer tournament was inaugurated in 2015 with less than 20 junior and senior teams taking part, but the last two editions of this event saw the numbers of the participating sides growing as more than 40 teams took part in the knock-out stages of last year’s competition.
Last year, there were 18 teams in the seniors division and an equal number in the Under-13 and 16 age-groups. The teams were drawn from the ZIFA Epworth Area Zone League and Epworth Pools emerged as the top dogs of last year’s tournament after beating Zawali 3-0 in the final of the seniors division.
In the Under-16s final, Young Stars edged Foothills 1-0 while Epworth Saints beat Clue Wibe 5-4 on penalties in the Under-13s final after the two teams had played out a goalless draw in regulation time.
Young Munyaradzi Bhaudhi (13), then a Grade Six pupil at Chizungu Primary School in Epworth, was named the best player of the tournament in the Under-13 age-group and Musekiwa Kumbula pledged to pay his school fees for the whole year in 2018.
The Mwalimu Kumbula Soccer Tournament has been graced by a number of prominent people from Epworth, a grossly underdeveloped dormitory of Harare situated on the eastern periphery of the capital.
CAPS United midfielder Ronald Chitiyo, who was born and bred in Epworth, and the Zimbabwe Olympic Committee president Admire Masenda were the guests of honour of the Mwalimu Kumbula tournament in 2016 and 2017 respectively.
And this Saturday’s finals will be graced by Farai Dhliwayo, the director of Legends Soccer Academy. Winners at this year’s finals will receive trophies, soccer kits and medals.