Mhlauri ready to work with ZIFA
Grace Chingoma Senior Sports Reporter
FORMER Warriors coach, Charles Mhlauri, says he is keen to assist ZIFA bring a number of promising women footballers to the United States.
Mhlauri helped Vanessa Mateko secure a four-year scholarship in the United States.
Mateko is a former Young Mighty Warrior.
“I did assist Vanessa Mateko to come to the USA. I have been helping student-athletes who want to study in the USA,’’ said Mhlauri.
“She was able to get financial aid to study at Kimball Union Academy here in the USA, and she is now headed to Brewton Parker College for her first year.
“She has done well, compared to the time she arrived. Her technical skills were far behind, but she has been working hard, and she is improving.
“I want to see her graduate from university and see more student athletes get the opportunity to further their development in the USA.
“I am available to help talented athletes, aged mostly between 15 and 17, with excellent academics and equally gifted in soccer.
“Through the club director, Gladman Dimbiri of Maningi FC, I got Vanessa. Miguel Lemming of Ten Toes Africa has been mobilising funds for her financial support.
‘’Rose Mugadza (Young Mighty Warriors coach), also recommended her since she was already in A levels.’’
Mateko moved to United States last year.
She was playing for Maningi Queens, while at Glen View High, on a local scholarship programme.
She had been spotted by women’s football coach, Anne Konje, in the Seke communal lands.
But, a bigger door opened when she secured a scholarship to complete her high school studies at Kimball Union Academy.
Now, she is at The Brewton-Parker College.
“Vanessa brings a lot of experience to the group. She has already played in a lot of big games over her career,’’ the college coach said on their website.
‘’Her enthusiasm, work rate and intelligence is something we are excited about.”
The 19-year-old also spoke about her journey.
‘’I started playing soccer when I was 13, I played street football with boys for two years until a female coach, named Ennie Konje, spotted me,’’ she said.
“By that time, I was staying in Unit N, Chitungwiza, with my brother because my mom and dad were working in South Africa.
‘’My little twin sisters were staying with my grandmother in the rural areas.
“Coach Konje is the one who opened doors for me to know what is a soccer club and what is a team that is girl-dominated.
“In 2015, I joined Field Rulers Club, which was coached by Konje and Shingirai Kutama.
“I had no direction, techniques and skills but I had ball control from street soccer.’’
Mateko then left Field Rulers after one and half years when she followed her coach Konje to Maningi Queens.
She recalls that is when her real journey in football started.
“I still remember sitting at the bench and scared to play against big teams like Black Rhinos and Black Mambas,’’ she said.
“But, one day, my coach Shingirai Mungwini, my Maningi coach, told me to warm up before substituting Rachel Thomas who was injured.
“He looked into my eyes and said, ‘I want you to go there and finish what Rachel was trying to do.’
“I got into the game against Mambas, with only five minutes to go, as a striker. The scoreboard was 1-1, as a new player, I was confused but I remember marking my debut by scoring a winning goal.’’
Mateko was drafted into the Under-20 national squad when she was called into camp for the Region 5 Games in Botswana in 2018.
“We got there and scooped bronze medal.
Mateko says she has seen the hand of God in her life.
“I feel so blessed, I wasn’t expecting something like this. I thank the Almighty God for this amazing opportunity.
“With the help of Tentoes Africa and my Maningi director, Gladman Dimbiri, everything came to reality.
“I just want to thank Charles Mhlauri and Kimball Union Academy for moulding me into a great player.
“I want to thank my parents, for being with me, since day one and believing in me too.’’
Mugadza said she was happy that the player has secured a four-year scholarship in the United States.
“I just thought she was the best player with all the Ordinary Level results that Charles required,’’ said Mugadza.
“Having worked with her during the COSAFA tournament, we thought she was a very good player.
“We knew that by going to the States, she would improve and she did very well to get the scholarship for the next four years.
“I am happy for her and I always tell her to be disciplined, to work hard in her football career as well as her studies.’’