Zim prodigy heads for UK

HARARE - Lomagundi College fledgling footballer Panashe Gama yesterday led a cast of teenagers who left for soccer trials with several English Premiership clubs including Manchester City under the auspices of Harare-based Global Sports Academy (GSA).

GSA is a leading local sports vehicle that facilitates international attachments in professional teams in Europe, the United States and Asia.

And for the budding forward, — Gama, it seems his dream of making it on the grand stage in Europe is slowly coming together.

Only four years ago, the Liverpool enthusiast — who models his game on his role models Brazilian and Liverpool playmaker Philippe Coutinho and World Footballer of the Year, Ronaldo of Real Madrid made clear his intentions to his mother Jackie that one day he would travel to Europe to pursue a career in football.

“It is quite evident that Panashe has always set sights on expanding his horizons from a tender age,” his mother told the Daily News at the Harare International Airport yesterday just before his departure for England.

“For instance, when he was just in Grade 7, four years ago, he made me sign a declaration letter promising me that he will go to England to pursue his soccer career. At that age, to boldly seek his mother’s written and solemn promise is testimony of his resolve to scale great heights internationally and attests to his unshakeable resolve not to mention unparalleled self-belief.

“I am super excited and I thank God because it has been his wish to play football in Europe since he was a kid. As his parents, we support him morally and financially and we always make sure we attend most of his soccer matches as and when we can.”

Reports from the UK confirm that City are revolutionising their entire football academy system, which came at a staggering cost of a princely £150 million when it opened in 2014.

There has been a drive at City to invest in youth with a selection of the best being handed professional debuts over the last year and Panashe, who turned 16 on Monday, is sure in his own ability that he will catch the eyes during the eight-day attachment.

Other leading premiership clubs like Liverpool and Manchester United will also have a look at him and other youngsters as matches have been arranged where several scouts from big clubs will attend.

“I would just want to thank Global Sports Academy for this opportunity and for the training I have had in the build-up for this journey — my coach Malvern Moyo has been phenomenal, he inspired and helped me realise my potential and most importantly for believing in me,” Panashe said.

GSA coach and founding director Moyo said Panashe has the potential to emulate some of the best wingers in the world including his role models like superstar Ronaldo.

“He is a very gifted player, dedicated and pace is his deadly weapon. He can trouble any defence and I hope him and the rest of the squad won’t succumb to stage fright. We have set them a higher bar and I’m confident it will be a good and fruitful experience,” Moyo said.

According to media reports in England, City’s owners have began overhauling their age-group teams, and the club’s coach Pep Guardiola often comes to watch a number of academy games; has even been to training and knows some of the academy players by name.

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