Fungayi Munyoro Mutare Correspondent
ACADEMY 2063, an ambitious nationwide junior football development project spearheaded by a South Africa-based businessman Regis Dzenga, is now in Manicaland where they are conducting selection of young players from around the province.
The national coordinator of the project, Patson Ndabambi, is in Mutare conducting trails at Chancellor Primary School. Judging by the attendance of players from the length and breadth of the province, Manicaland has embraced Academy 2063. The academy was introduced in July during the NAPH national finals at Mutare Boys High School in July.
The project aims at identifying and nurturing the next generation of the country’s football stars. Ndabambi said all the country’s 10 provinces will provide their best five players, who will then meet in Harare for the final selection.
“We have been going around the country in search of talent among the junior players. Each province will provide five of their best players who are in Grade Six or Grade Seven. The selected players will then meet in Harare for the national finals, where we will select a total of 20 players who will then benefit from full sponsorship.
“The players we are mainly targeting are those who will be going for Form One next year. If selected, they will then enrol at Prince Edward School in Harare.
“If we find good players among those who will be going for Grade Seven next year, we will have them enrol at Selborne Routledge Primary School in Harare.
“The national trials will take place at Prince Edward School from September 7-9,” he said. Dzenga, a former ZIFA board member development, who used to run the Agatha Sheneti Soccer Academy and Harare United FC, said he will upgrade both Selborne and Prince Edward facilities.
He added that the academy will be in full operation in January 2018. “Academy 2063 will begin its full operation in January 2018. We will construct a clubhouse and boarding facilities for the players at these schools. We will not only develop the children in sport, but also academically. “We will have our satellite centres in each and every province, but the main centre will remain Prince Edward.
“The schools that will provide these children will benefit greatly. In the past when we were still running the Agatha Sheneti Academy, we managed to come up with players like Hardlife Zvirekwi, Onismo Bhasera and Edward Sadomba” he said. The project partners include former Warriors skipper Benjani Mwaruwaru and former basketball star Blessing Rugano.
Manicaland project coach Brian Mukundu said the project will go a long way in developing junior talent in the province. “It is a good thing to have such projects in the country. For a long time we have been looking for people like these, who have passion for football development in the country.
“It is also an opportunity to have our players have the exposure needed. We have a total of 30 boys from Chipinge, Mutare, Nyanga, Odzi and Rusape. “I hope the guys will make it when they meet other players from other provinces.
“I am confident with the boys we have here because we are the NAPH champions and most of them were part of the winning team. I think the project will benefit children with talent, but without resources.
“In our province we have limited resources, but with this project we will benefit greatly. Children will be assisted with full boarding facilities. The project will also benefit the schools that will have their children selected,” said Mukundu.