La Sakubva: Mutare's football fountain

MUTARE - The other Saturday, although La Sakubva Football Club’s Under-18 were leading Sheckon Stars 4-0 with a team that did not have five of its most talented players who were with the Manicaland Under-20 team at the National Youth Games its owner and Coach Timothy ‘Sicho’ Masachi was not in celebratory mood.

Fine, his club is by far the most successful football club in Manicaland and a fountain for football in Mutare – even the country.

Looking only on current crop – in the local Castle Premiership they produced Tichaona Mabvura for Dynamos, Talent Munetsi and Agrippa Murimba for Monomotapa and Trymore Nyamadzawo for Harare City while Buffaloes benefitted keeper Chengetai Tandadzai, Philip Thembani, Farai Banda, Kudzai Mwaramba and Liberty Chakoroma.

In the South African Premier League they have national team players Washington Arubi, Willard Katsande and Onismor Bhasera while Namibia has one player with Mozambique having four – Wirimai Karonga, Albert Musakwa, Mike Nyamukasa and Liberty Ndadzungira, with the last two having also had the opportunity to play in the African Champions League with Maxaquene.

In local first division teams they have 10 players in Tenax, four in Mutare City, and six with Mutare Poly while they also contributed six players for second division team Bottle Tigers and almost the whole team for Mega Stars while they also have their own team in the second division league.

But the problem is they are not getting a return on their investment for nurturing and producing all these players.

In their best ever deals, Lancashire Steel paid half of the agreed fee for Washington Arubi and an old kit from Douglas Warriors in exchange for Andrew Tshuma, now with Hwange.

Other than that they have never received anything for all their coaching and grooming efforts. They are just being cleaned out by teams just about any team that coverts their talented youngsters.

Now, against Sheckon Stars one of their young talents had dislocated his arm at the elbow which meant they were going to spend money for his medication – money they are probably never going to recover. They were to spend nearly US$200.

La Sakubva are a local football phenomenon and currently they are celebrating their coach’s reign in-charge of the only top flight club in the province.

Masachi began his rein at Buffaloes by handing defending champions Dynamos their first league defeat of the season.

The result shocked the nation but not locals whose success locally is unrivalled.

But he, together with La Sakubva’s co-founder Steven Chinhengo has been standing in the way of business.

They have been too human – too sensitive to the plight of their young players to stand in their way until their clubs pays them for all the work and money they would have invested in grooming them into professional footballers.

“Some of the clubs would even threaten to fire the players if we pester them for payments,” Clap Murato another director of the club said.

“Some of these youngsters would be orphans but most of them would be coming from poor backgrounds and when they lend either a work contract or a football contract you wouldn’t want to stand in their way.

Masachi added: “We would have worked hard for that and we would have succeeded but the problem would be with clubs who grab these players for nothing.”

And Zifa has been turning a blind eye as other clubs reap them off.

“We feel Zifa has not done justice to our many complaints of teams who don’t want to pay for players we would have developed and with whom we would have signed contracts,” Masachi said.

“We should have been having a team in the premier league if we were being paid what is due to us considering all the talented players we have produced.”

Mutaro added: “We deserve to be paid because we would have made a huge investment in each and every one of our players. In Europe a club is forbidden to even talk to another team’s player without the knowledge of their club but here big clubs are free to do as they please.

Masachi’s junior teams have cleaned the board in local competitions and he has also been engaged by local schools bringing them silverware in national competitions winning the Eric Rosen Tournament in 2004 with Sakubva High 1 and another with Sakubva Primary in 2010.

It’s however with his La Sakubva teams that he has been winning with amazing frequency such that he has lost count of competitions he has won.

“I can’t remember. I need to check with my records but they are too many,” Masachi said.

From his readily available old records his under 13, 15, 17 and 19 teams were league champions from 2005 to 2007.

And thanks to the uniform they were wearing they were also reminded that they beat 12 other teams to win the Willard Katsande Challenge Cup last year.

“We only participate in local tournaments as a formality because everyone knows we always win,” Murato noted with pride.

Now La Sakubva has teams from under 10 to 19 who have 30 players each and a division two side with 26 registered players but maintaining the club’s dominance in Manicaland football tournaments as also evidenced by their five players in the Manicaland Under 20 National Youth Games team.

The club was formed in 2002 as a business venture to groom and then sale players but also as a way to offer young boys an alternative to crime and drugs by giving them football as a form of employment, Murato said.

“Sakubva presents youngsters with challenges of drugs, crime, prostitution and negative peer pressure just like any overpopulated urban settlement and we have been doing a good job with the boys who are in our teams.

“So we hope we will one day either get a fair return on our investments or find people who are willing to sponsor our efforts,” Masachi said.

Murato however said they were also willing to extend their efforts to girls as well. “But at the moment we are already financially stretched. We can’t afford it,” he said.

So now La Sakubva continues to shape and polish the footballing finesse of Zimbabwe’s future stars as its coaches endure sweltering heat, freezing temperatures and rain as they wait for someone somewhere to remember and reward their efforts.

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Comments (1)

those palyers ought to give back to the club....

ngoni - 14 October 2013

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