Petros Kausiyo and Grace Chingoma
AS the national game continues to reflect on yet another poor performance by the Young Warriors at the COSAFA Under-17 tournament, one of the most successful drivers of junior development programmes in the country has broken his silence.
Rodwell Dhlakama has called for proper structures which will enable proper talent identification and nurturing in the country.
For the second year running, the Young Warriors could not go beyond the first round at the Championship in Mauritius.
The Young Warriors will play their last group match against Angola today after defeats to Swaziland (3-2) and Malawi (0-5).
ZIFA will also have to take the flak for the questionable selection they are using to pick coaches of this delicate age-group of players.
Former Zimbabwe Under-17 coach Dhlakama, now in charge of Premiership side Chapungu, said there was a lot of talent in the country.
“There are a lot of issues that need to be addressed, both administratively and technically. We can’t really say there are no structures at all because the school system is functional and there are also a lot of academies in the country to fish talent from.
“Talk of Copa Coca-Cola tournament, academies such as Aces Youth Academy, Academy 2063, Legends Academy, BN Academy, Bosso 90 and La Sakubva, there are so many and we can surely raise a team to compete.
“We can’t be really that bad to lose by such margins even to countries like Swaziland, Lesotho and Malawi,” Dhlakama said.
While ZIFA appear to have invested their faith in physical education teachers disguised as coaches, their limitations have been exposed at this level.
“I worked in Swaziland, it’s a small country, but they have proper structures and development plans,” he said.
“How do we marry this scenario where Rusununguko are always champions for Under-17 and yet they fail to provide a single player to the national team?
“This alone shows that we are not doing enough. There is so much talent in the country.”
He said a well-resourced technical department plays a pivotal role in scouting talent.
“There are a lot of sacrifices needed when dealing with junior development so if you are not fully-resourced as a coach it would be difficult to execute your duties.”
Dhlakama also challenged ZIFA to have consistency in appointing junior coaches.
“Something must be done. The board member responsible for development should spearhead the programmes, this is a critical area and this person is a key figure who should understand the junior development portfolio well . . .
“If you look in the past, it was known who the best coaches for junior development and names like Ali Baba Dube or Cosmas “Tsano” Zulu came up, if you ask Chitungwiza guys like Alois Bunjira and Stewart Murisa, they will tell you they came through (the late) Never Gombera’s hands and in Mutare there were people like James Mahala.”