White Lion leads galaxy of Legends Academy stars
Takudzwa Chitsiga-Sports Reporter
TALENTED former Zimbabwe youth international Calum English-Brown headlines a cast of Legends Football Academy prodigies who are expected to take the Premiership by storm when the 2023 season gets underway today.
The winger, who hogged the limelight with some stellar shows for WhaWha last year, leads a cast of young talent that has been loaned out to various top-flight and Division One clubs by top Harare school of excellence, Legends Football Academy.
The 21-year-old English-Brown, nicknamed the White Lion by WhaWha fans, has been loaned out to 2022 Premiership runners-up Chicken Inn.
He will be competing against some of his Legends Academy teammates Washington Mapuwa, Tashinga Pfende and Naison Takawira, who are at Premiership debutants GreenFuel, as well as Triangle’s Blessing Kagudu and Nigel Kupara at Cranborne Bullets.
Legends also have the trio of goalkeeper Tinotenda Chinovhiringa and midfielders Wellington Mapuwa and Farai Dzingayi at Eastern Region Division One outfit Mutare Rovers, while Orlando “Ziggy’’ Zvairevei is with Northern Region title aspirants Golden Eagles. As they look to make an impact in the Premier League, the players also paid tribute to Legends for shaping their careers and ensuring they are not lost to social vices such as the drug menace that hit the country’s youth.
English-Brown, however revealed that a knock on the ankle will see him miss Chicken Inn’s opening game against newboys Sheasham at Mandava this afternoon.
“The pre-season has gone on very well so far and preparations are wrapping up. The team is looking strong for this coming season and I am sure results will go our way,’’ English-Brown said.
The former Zimbabwe Young Warriors international also spoke about how his talent had been nurtured at Legends.
“In terms of the impact of the coaching at Legends, I think it has made a big impact in terms of the training, the discipline, the consistency with everything. Coach Farai (Dhliwayo) would bring us in every week at training to work on our individual stuff and that is something that I have carried throughout my career,’’ English-Brown said.
Pfende, who had a stint with relegated Tenax last season, is also ready to up his game with Lloyd Mutasa’s Green Fuel.
“My time with Legends Academy was not easy at all at first… I felt like quitting because mentally I wasn’t strong and at first things were tough at home. So, going to training while you are not good mentally, was a challenge.
“But Legends Academy helped me to overcome that and carry on with my career. I had to work hard and believe and I would like to thank coach Farai and everyone at the academy, who have made this far and they have worked so hard to put me here so that I can play in the Premier League.
“Up to this day they keep following up and checking on me and I’m so happy and I really appreciate the effort and love from Legends Academy,’’ Pfende said.
Teenager Washington Mapuwa, who scored a wonder goal for WhaWha against Harare City at the National Sports Stadium last season, has also been roped in at GreenFuel by Mutasa.
Mapuwa, who hails from Dzivaresekwa, paid tribute to Legends for taking care of his school fees and ensuring that he stayed focussed on his career.
The 18-year-old was the oldest of the Legends Academy squad that toured Portugal in September last year. He believes the techniques he learnt from the European sojourn will stand him in good stead to make an impact at GreenFuel this season.
“Apart from paying for my school fees, Legends also gave us bus fares and they still do that today. “Some of my friends got into drugs and even wanted me to join them but I refused. Due to the work ethic and discipline at the academy, I was able to stay away from drugs and all that stuff.
“I used to be the top goal scorer since I was 10 years old when I joined the academy and now I also want to go for the Golden Boot in the PSL . I want to thank my coaches Simbarashe Gondo (strength and conditioning coach) and Farai Dhliwayo for preparing me for the PSL.
“It is also my ambition to do very well in the Premier League. My dream is to go on to play outside the country but in order to do that I have to work hard and I think with GreenFuel we can achieve things,’’ Mapuwa said.
Right back Kagudu, one of the new acquisitions in a rebuilding Triangle outfit, is confident that the Sugar Sugar Boys, who host Herentals at Gibbo, will have a decent season.
Kagudu starred in the Motsepe League in South Africa before returning home.