Football thrives on vibrant junior policies

HARARE - With only two weeks into the 2017 Castle Lager Premiership season, it is disappointing to note that a lot of fans have already started complaining about the lack of goals.

Over the years, local strikers and attack-minded midfielders have become very goal-shy.

CAPS United forward Leonard Tsipa won the 2016 Golden Boot with a paltry 11 strikes in 30 games.

It has been a long time since the domestic games has witnessed a deadly striker who has an eye for goal like the late trio of Shakeman Tauro, Gift Mpariwa and Percy Mwase.

Even if Tauro, Mpariwa or Mwase were half asleep they still had the ability to get the ball into the back of the net in between yawns.

Over the past years, defenders and midfielders have become the star players in our domestic game, having overtaken strikers.

The 2016 Castle Lager Soccer Star of the Year award went to CAPS United defender Hardlife Zvirekwi and the previous year, central midfielder Danny Phiri won the award while still at Chicken Inn.

The previous year, centre back Dennis Dauda won the gong while playing for ZPC Kariba.

Charles Sibanda was the last forward to win the Soccer Star of the Year gong way back in 2010, during his stint with Motor Action.

The main contributing factor to this dearth of quality strikers can be traced back to the fact that junior football development in this country is virtually non-existant.

Except for a few individuals who are pouring huge resources to fund their own academies, it’s sad to see that very few top flights clubs have junior development programmes.

Playing as a centre forward is an art that must be nurtured from a very young age but that is not happening because the clubs have abandoned their tried and tested juniors.

Instead, clubs are now relying on recycling washed-out players who are free agents without any transfer fees to pay.

Highlanders striker Prince Dube, 20, is probably the only young forward who has been given a chance to prove himself on the grand stage since making his debut last year.

Dube has grabbed the opportunity with both hands and has established himself in the Bosso starting XI.

Recently, he was handed his first Zimbabwe cap by interim Warriors coach Norman Mapeza in an international friendly against Zambia.

CAPS United defender Valentine Musarurwa, 21, has also shown some promise every time he has been called up by coach Lloyd Chitembwe.

For our game to develop and move, there is need for clubs and coaches to have more faith in their young players.     

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