Development is the priority - Methembe

BULAWAYO - The Daily News on Sunday recently caught up with Bantu Rovers director and coach Methembe “Mayor” Ndlovu to talk about the progress and challenges the newly-promoted Castle Premiership side has faced.

Tshintsha Guluva are currently one place off the bottom of the log with only nine points from 19 matches which makes them favourites for the drop at the end of the season.

However, Ndlovu is not worried at all about the club’s precarious position on the log since Rovers’ business model is based on giving underprivileged youths a chance to succeed in life.

Below are excerpts of the interview.

Q: What are your thoughts on Bantu Rovers’ position on the log thus far?

A: We are fighting to stay in the league. We have played our part thus far. We will continue to play our part. In the end we will finish where we will belong but we are certainly not throwing in the towel. We are going to compete.

Q: Coach sometimes you are there and sometimes you are away travelling on business. Do you think that it is an ideal situation?

A: Unfortunately, we are a club of limited resources. In an ideal world we would be able to have somebody else who would have the full commitment and the availability to be in this position that I am currently occupying. We had identified Agent Sawu to be our guy unfortunately in terms of compliance with the football association we had to comply. That has come with some challenges here and there. We don’t want to make any excuses, we have a training programme. Every time when I’m travelling I’m always in contact with Sawu. We don’t want to make any excuses for our failure to produce results. But I do agree it’s not ideal.

Q: At one time we saw a player acting as a medic, team manager Agent Sawu and yourself have also acted as the team medic. What is really going on?

A: We have to be realistic; we are all living in Zimbabwe and we know the current situation and the circumstances. Unfortunately we are having a lot of mid-week games. We have a doctor, we have a physiotherapist but when we are scheduled to play a midweek match these guys have full time jobs. They are employed somewhere.They cannot leave their work to be at our games. We have to do the best that we can. Unfortunately we don’t have a budget that allows us to have full time medical personnel to be working for us full time. That’s the reality.

Q: At one time we saw Joseph Sibindi in the picture taking charge during your absence and suddenly he is not there anymore. Tell us your technical structure.

A: I’m the head coach. We had an assistant coach Joseph Sibindi, who has since stepped down. Our team manager is Agent Sawu. Our team doctor is Takura Musasa. At the present moment we have some people who come to help us from time to time. We don’t have a specific goalkeeper’s trainer.

Q: In as much as you don’t have goalkeepers coach, you also don’t have an assistant coach.

A: We had an assistant coach and he stepped down. So at the present moment we don’t have an assistant coach.

Q: Your general assessment of our league?

A: For us we have been very impressed given the prevailing environment in the country. Not only for football but everyone. We have been very impressed on how well the football has been run. Thumbs up to the Premier Soccer League, I think they have been doing their best under difficult circumstances. We cannot expect to be operating at a level that is at par with the top leagues in the world given the environment that we are operating in. I’m very pleased and we are proud to be participating in the league.

Q: In terms of your objectives in the league this year, are you really happy with what you have done so far?

A: I think we have done well. In the first instance, we have fulfilled all our fixtures, we haven’t been walked over. That has happened before to other clubs. We are very happy in that regard. I feel we have been competitive. Fine we have not had results going our way but we get opportunities to get points in the games that we have played. In terms of our development thrust, we really think beyond just playing football. We have been grooming young people, giving them opportunities and giving them responsibility to really test themselves. We are competing against ourselves to try to be the best that we can be. I that regard, our junior players that have come through our system have had an opportunity to compete. For us that is progress but its only progress if they are competitive. I think they are competitive. I think we are going in the right direction.

Q: What’s the difference between Bantu and the other institutions or Premier League teams?

A: We are a developmental side. We want to develop our players, our coaches, our staff, our administrators to be the best that they can be and move on to the biggest challenge that they can find. I always say to players that come to Bantu that if they come to Bantu and look at this as their end destination then they are not ambitious enough. We want people who see this as a stepping stone. As a platform to move on to bigger and better things. Not only for the players but for coaches as well. We want the coaches to say I want to leave Bantu to go and coach in England, or coach in South Africa, to go and coach in Europe. We want people who have ambitions from Bantu to go and coach the national teams, the women’s team and so on. Whatever it is, we want to see the club as a platform for young people to challenge themselves and to push themselves to the limit and kick on to the next level. This should not be an end destination.

Q: Your five-year plan as Bantu Rovers?

A: We want to progress the club to a point where many of our players will go and occupy many occupations. Some of them in five years they are school teachers, headmasters, clerks, administrators not only within the football industry but to carry on with their lives. In my view, very few people can make a living out of football but football has an opportunity to really impact young people. If they learn good values here, be it discipline, hard work, time keeping, professionalism, all these things can help them move on to other spheres of life and succeed in whatever they decide to do. Whether it is in football or outside football. In five years that will be a success for us. That’s what success looks like for me and for Bantu Rovers.

Q: Your message to the Bantu Rovers supporters and people who follow the club?

A: We can promise we will compete to win every game but we cannot promise that we will win every game. We can promise without doubt that every single time we step between the lines we will compete to win but we will try to do so in the right way, with the right values, with the right discipline, with the right work ethic. If we have an opportunity to win a match through the back door, we will not take it. We will try to win it through the front door. If that means we will risk results in order to develop players so be it. You can rest assured we will put our best foot forward, we will fall short here and there but we will try to do the right thing.

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