Ellina Mhlanga Sports Reporter
TALENTED young Zimbabwean footballers are set to get a direct connection with clubs in Europe after Triumph Athletic Group revealed that they have partnered with Czech Republic based MSM International Football Academy for talent identification and development in Africa. Triumph Athletic Group sports management and consultancy is owned by former local sprinter, Fungai Matiza, who is now based in Johannesburg, South Africa.

And Matiza recently told The Herald in an interview that he will be representing the European academy on the continent where they are embarking on a talent identification programme to assist talented young football players turn professional.

“Right now we have partnered with MSM International Football Academy in Czech Republic. So I am representing their academy throughout Africa, where we are trying to identify talent and give players a platform where they can excel to reach professional levels.

“With the relationships that I have built over the years with brands like Puma, PVM Nutrition, we are trying to bring that system into Zimbabwe where players or athletes need to know that they need a certain support structure for them to reach professional levels,” said Matiza.

Matiza said they are also looking at helping athletes plan for their future and noted that there is need to change the mindset on the way sport is treated.

“We intend to try and make people realise that sport is now a multibillion-dollar industry. So the athletes that we mentor, the athletes that we manage and take care of, the first thing we want them to understand is that they are not just athletes, they are not just players but their business.

“So that way they get onto the field, they know whatever earnings they make they have to budget, because that’s their business and need to treat themselves as a business. We need to try and change the mindset of everybody.

“You come to Zimbabwe, an athlete doesn’t even have a physiotherapist, doesn’t consult a dietician for them to know what their body needs to perform at the highest level. So we are working with all these brands to bring that system within our sporting system in Zimbabwe,” Matiza said.

Triumph Athletic Group have so far identified four local players including Triangle midfielder Munyaradzi Chiwara and Matiza was recently in the country to set up their base at Heritage School.

“So in the meantime what we want to do with the boys that we have earmarked to have on our books as Zimbabwean players that we are going to support, Munyaradzi Chiwara, Tawanda Macheka, he is a junior at Dynamos and Eddie Gwindi, who is just coming out of high school, we want them to be the leading light.

“We will give them the structure and this is why we got Pro-Fitness gym. We are bringing in PUMA to brand the boys. We are bringing in PVM nutrition so that they have all the nutrition support that they need and then there is basic equipment that these players need.

“We want to use these boys as the brand ambassadors for the academy in Czech Republic, which is MSM international football academy. We want to use them as brand ambassadors for PUMA, for PVM, all the brands that we are bringing on board.

“We are looking at growing the brand throughout Africa. So being Zimbabwean myself I felt I have to do justice to my people and give back. So we start setting up in Zimbabwe first and then we are looking at going to Botswana, and already we have got a network in Kenya and Zambia,” Matiza said.

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