Grace Chingoma Senior Sports Reporter
YOUNG Warriors coach Tonderai Ndiraya and his team have been invited for a rare European tour to assist them to prepare for the upcoming Under-23 African Cup of Nations football qualifier against South Africa in June.
According to a letter addressed to the junior national team coach and dated April 13, the GeBe Sports and Education Foundation, who are based in Hamburg, Germany, are seeking to host the team next month.
The Zimbabwean team is expected to play friendly matches against a number of the German Bundesliga lower division teams from the second tier up to the fourth division.
Bernd Wulffen, the director and founder of GeBe Foundation, recently told The Herald that they would like to assist the Young Warriors.
Some of the teams that have been lined-up to play the Young Warriors during their proposed tour are HSV Hamburg, St Pauli Hamburg, VfB Lubeck, Holstein Kiel and Hansa Rostock.
VfB Lubeck is the home of two Zimbabwe national Under-23 players Seth Patrick and Shama Bako.
“On behalf of GeBe Foundation, it is our great pleasure to extend our warmest welcome to (Mr) Tonderai Ndiraya, head coach of the Under-23 national football team of Zimbabwe to visit Germany with his team and coaching staff from May 12 to 26.
“In co-operation with our partner clubs in Germany, we are inviting your team (the Young Warriors) to play competitive in-house friendly matches for their assessment only.
“We need very urgently a confirmation letter of attendance from ZIFA to contact the German clubs to set up a very professional organised programme,” read part of the invitation letter which was sent to Ndiraya by the GeBe Foundation.
Although the European season would have ended by the scheduled time of the tour, the facilitators have lined-up a series of competitive matches for the Young Warriors.
This initiative was facilitated by United Kingdom-based junior football coach Phillip Zulu, who has committed to help Ndiraya adequately prepare for the crunch Under-23 AFCON qualifier against South Africa in June.
Both Wulffen and Zulu have indicated that they would also like to empower or help Ndiraya “to become a top-notch coach” by facilitating for him an attachment with a number of German clubs during the Young Warriors’ proposed tour of the European country.
The GeBe Foundation have been involved in the development of local soccer for some time now. At the beginning of the year, they hosted four players from Harare’s BN Academy who were in Germany for a two-week trial period.
The foundation have also helped Patrick and Bako to sign for a German lower division side VfB Lubeck.
Both Patrick and Shama are members of the current national Under-23 team and the former featured for the Young Warriors in their last AFCON qualifier against Mozambique, which they won 2-0 on aggregate to set up a date with South Africa in June.
ZIFA spokesperson Xolisani Gwesela said they are yet to receive an official communication from the GeBe Foundation.
But Zulu yesterday said the GeBe Foundation, through Wulffen, will soon send another official invitation letter to the ZIFA secretariat and the association’s president Felton Kamambo, board member (competitions) Chamu Chiwanza and technical director Wilson Mutekede.
“In fact, we are lining up something bigger for Ndiraya once he is given the greenlight by ZIFA to bring his Young Warriors for a training camp in Germany . . . We could be able to convince the top clubs in the First Division in Germany to host the team once they hear about our first tour activities.
“In fact, Bernd Wulffen is very excited about this whole thing because he has a soft spot for Zimbabwe as his partner is from Zimbabwe and he would like to help us to qualify for the Under-23 AFCON finals,” said Zulu from his base in Leeds, England.