Petros Kausiyo Deputy Sports Editor
LONG-SERVING Polish coach Wieslaw Grabowski wants Zimbabwe football to put more focus on developing the game rather than the infighting that has stalled its progress over the years. Grabowski, who has grown into becoming an influential figure using his contacts in European countries to create avenues for African footballers to ply their trade in bigger leagues, decried “too much negativity and fighting’’ in the national game.
“In my opinion, a negative approach, especially in administration, is derailing football in Zimbabwe,” said Grabowski.
“Administrators should stop fighting all the time or frustrating each other because then it becomes Zimbabwe Football Association not Zimbabwe Football Frustration Association.
“When you stop fighting and concentrate on developing the game, all the national teams will benefit.
“It should not be about trying to tarnish the image of Grabowski or this and that coach or administrator who is trying to help to develop the game’’.
ZIFA, Grabowski, also said, should lead the way in outlining the development path which the country should follow arguing that he would want to see the bulk of the Fifa Financial assistance programme funds being channelled towards youth development. He bemoaned the lack of clear development structures in local football, arguing that the country is endowed with an abundance of talented players that are not being polished well enough to benefit the Warriors and their own careers.
Grabowski, a director with DT Africa United, who recently won promotion back into the Zifa Northern Region Division One, spoke passionately about his beliefs on what he believes is pegging back the domestic game and felt there was need for more coach and administrator education for Zimbabwe to reap the rewards of the players at the country’s disposal.
The veteran Polish mentor has over the years managed the talents of more than 100 players in Zimbabwe and around the continent through his Darryn T project, which is now called DT African United.
A former Warriors and Young Warriors coach, Grabowski has also helped several players find a breakthrough in the European leagues with such names like Norman Mapeza, Gift Muzadzi, Takesure Chinyama, Shingi Kawondera, Dickson Choto, John Phiri, Edelbert Dinha, Alois Bunjira, Stewart Murisa, Lloyd Chitembwe and Costa Nhamoinesu, headlining a long list of those that came through his hands on their way to the professional game.
Grabowski is also currently working closely with Prince Edward School to assist talented footballers find their way into the professional game including those from other countries such as Angola.
“There is a lot of talent in Zimbabwe but, just like diamonds, it needs to be polished into gems. If you do not cut your diamonds well and if you do not polish them well you will not benefit from them.
“This is the same situation here, we have a lot of talented players but Zimbabwe is not fully benefiting from them. There is so much potential in the schools. “We have talent that can go straight into Europe and play for big teams but we have to change the way we are developing them,’’ Grabowski said.
He revealed that he was facilitating attachments for students at such academies like those of Polish giants Legia Warsaw.
“I can take four or five students from schools and then take them to Europe for attachments to academies like the one at Legia Warsaw.
“ZIFA should identify a bunch of talented young players from across the country that can be sent to a boarding school using development funds and during their time at school they can learn academics and football,’’ Grabowski said.
Grabowski also added his voice to the chorus of condemnation over age-cheating and said the football authorities in the country needed to put more effort in weeding out age cheats. “When you identify young players they must be genuine young players not someone who is 25 years claiming to be Under-17 because sooner or later the crooked ways will catch up with them.
“From ZIFA, registrar-general’s office, and the police all the authorities must work together to eradicate age cheating in football,’’ said Grabowski.