'A firm believer in youth development'

BULAWAYO - Fomer Highlanders striker Tobias Mudyambanje believes Zimbabwe has the potential to become a powerhouse in world football if proper focus is given to youth development.

“The situation at present is that we are teaching our players how to play football at the age of 16 and yet by then we should be working on their tactical awareness,” Mudyambanje says.

A product of Mthwakazi Youth Club in the township of Nguboyenja, Mudyambanje says the early start that he got at his local youth centre saw him playing first division football when he was still in Form Three.

“In the past it was possible for a teenage player to break into the first team because of the correct grooming that we got from the youth clubs,” Mudyambanje says.

“As things stand, the country will not produce another player like Peter Ndlovu who can take scale great heights at a tender age because not enough is being done in the grassroots.”

Mudyambanje played his juniors football at Mthwakazi Youth Centre and at Mashonaland United juniors before getting his first taste of first team football at the first division campaigners Monarch.

The then Mzilikazi High School student enjoyed a great run in the 1984 Natbrew Castle Cup with Monarch as they reached the second round after eliminating then Super League side Black Aces.

“I scored a brace against Brenna Msiska and we won that match 4-1 and progressed to the second round where we came unstuck against Black Rhinos,” Mudyambanje recalls.

The following season saw him joining Zimbabwe Colts, who were owned by the late Herbert Ushewokunze and his exploits in their colours attracted the attention of Highlanders official Cosmas Zulu, who invited him for trials.

“It was a great breakthrough for me when I joined Highlanders in 1986, we went on to lift most of the cup competitions that were on offer that year,” Mudyambaje says.

At Highlanders, he did not have a tough time fitting in to the system as there were a number of players he knew from Mthwakazi Youth Centre and these included Mpumelelo Dzowa, who later left for Darryn Tornadoes, and the late Titus Majola.

“Back then, you got into the team on merit because everything was done transparently with fans coming in large numbers to watch training and that prepared the players for playing in front of big crowds unlike nowadays when teams train in a secret location,” Mudyambanje says.

The now devout Christian also had a stint at Zimbabwe Saints but returned to Highlanders where he played until his retirement in 1992.

Mudyambanje got into coaching in 2005 and has worked with EM Sports, Ziscosteel, Railstars, Sino Cement, Caps FC, Bulawayo Province and recently, Town United.

As a parting shot, Mudyambanje called upon Zifa to adopt a more professional approach with the national teams in order for the country to achieve success. - Sakheleni Nxumalo

Post a comment

Readers are kindly requested to refrain from using abusive, vulgar, racist, tribalistic, sexist, discriminatory and hurtful language when posting their comments on the Daily News website.
Those who transgress this civilised etiquette will be barred from contributing to our online discussions.
- Editor

Your email address will not be shared.