Arcadia eager to learn from yesteryear events

HARARE - Last week, we learnt of the refreshing news that the now-defunct Arcadia United has taken huge steps towards their “resurrection” from the dead after the famous football club folded in the late 90s.

A couple of vital lessons were learnt according to former striker Sean Charters and chief among them is the prioritisation of the players’ welfare so that when they call time on their careers they will not fall destitute as is the case with a number of his former teammates.

The club has set up skeletal structures with iconic stars such as Charlie Jones and Carlos Max among others spearheading the campaign to resurrect the club with the establishment of junior age group teams in the U12, U14, U16 and U19.

The hope is to register a team in the division two next year to kick-start a journey they have termed Vision 2020 where they are targeting to bounce back into the Premier Soccer League by the year 2020.

“The plea we have is that we need corporates to sponsor some of these teams...we need to put up structures in order to improve the livelihoods of these young players. The trend in Zimbabwe is that the star player plays for Dynamos, he lasts for 10 to 15 years...after that he’s no longer the star player, a new star arrives on the show and the former player is left destitute because all he knew was football,” Charters tells the Daily News on Sunday.

“So with the Vision 2020 we also want to try and give the players all the skills because not everybody makes it in football, we’ll try to teach these youngsters how to live beyond football.

“After 15 or 20 years of playing topflight football that is if they get the chance they will need to fall back on something. We find a lot of guys that I played with, it’s sad they are destitute. We are fortunate we are still managing to live but 80 percent of footballers are living bad lives and that is because the structures in the beginning did not look after these players.

“We only worry about a player when he is a star player. We use his skill when his skill is finished, a new boy is born and the trend continues we forget about them so I believe let’s get these youngsters early, teach them a culture even if it comes to educating them; so after football there’s an education they fall back onto because when football ends what do they fall back on?”

Danny Bismack Sports Club has suddenly become home to some entertaining football again and the man who founded and popularised the stadium Danny Bismack recently made a courtesy visit much to the appreciation of the coloured community.

“We play every weekend, every Saturday to be precise and we learnt a lot this past weekend with the help of former player Alan Johnson. We now want to embark on some more tournaments against the top academy sides in Harare next season and maybe take it further into Bulawayo and other centres,” Charters adds.

“The biggest challenge in hosting tournaments like these is they cost a lot. We would like corporates to come in and sponsor tournaments of this nature, put money into the youths as the youth are the future without them there’s no football in Zimbabwe...we will never go to the World Cup unless we fix these structures at the bottom.

“In building a house you cannot start building the roof, you start with the foundation and then the roof. So let’s start on the foundation and the foundation is the youth, let’s put structures instil discipline; discipline them young. To discipline a 25-year-old is difficult than to teach a 12-year-old that in football you need to live a certain type of life.

“It’s much easier when he now reaches U20 level or national team level you then now have a disciplined player who’s focussed on football because football today is the fastest growing business in the world.

“It’s a multi-million dollar industry if we don’t go that way with the youths there’s no future, I certainly don’t believe so.”

He says that most of the former club stars such as George Rollo, Hamid Dana, Majid Dana and Bethel Silas came through a sound developmental programme which when it was neglected the empire crumbled and the club died.

“The community were very happy to see youths running on the Danny Bismarck Sports Club again in the tournament and I think given time we will put correct structures in, don’t rush we not in a hurry to be back in the premier league that’s why we saying 2020. Let’s build the foundation, a good foundation your house will not fall down,” he says.

“We lost it at one time, our house fell down and I came through the structures, the junior development programmes were very good. Most of the players the likes of George Rollo, Hamid Dana, Majid Dana, Bethel Silas they all came through the youth development when that died Arcadia United died.

“It was very difficult (seeing the club fold), Arcadia United is a brand. I recall Motor Action being born and everybody called Motor Action, Arcadia United and even today if you mention the name Arcadia United I know and I’m confident they are many Arcadia United fans all over the show and I’m sure hoping that this will come full circle and will find Arcadia United back in the Premier League.

“People are happy but a lot of teething problems at the moment which we will get over. A lot of structures still need to be put in place and slowly people will come. We were fortunate on Sunday to have the presence of Danny Bismarck, the man who founded the field, walked through the gate which was amazing for everybody.

“He had not been to the place in I don’t know how long. So just his presence lifted a lot of people and a lot of people are now believing that this thing can happen...so let’s work together as a community everybody can play a part it’s not about Charlie Jones, Carlos Max, Sean Charters and Simon Finch it’s about the community.

“The community have to come on board to get this project forward. We are looking joining at least a junior league next season. It’s not long now Arcadia United will be back, 2020 is close by.”