Let the youngsters play!

HARARE - Being a spectator at a football match, comes with a heavy price and a huge duty that falls your shoulders.

If say 10 000 fans make their way to a stadium, I don't know what suddenly makes almost every one of them experts in analysing their team.

But then what can never be taken away from all those thousands is that they make football what it is, without them soccer gets boring.

Last Thursday, I had the chance to go to the National Sports Stadium to watch my first Premier Soccer League match of the 2018 season, pitting defending league champions FC Platinum and CAPS United.

Under Norman Mapeza's tutelage, Pure Platinum Play have religiously stuck to their philosophy of playing a neat passing game and they are a marvel to watch even for the neutrals.

However, I am not going to get too cosy with the way FC Platinum or how CAPS United played that day because the match was lukewarm and both sides never really got into the second gear.

Lloyd Chitembwe is a good coach, no doubts about that and as a player too he was a lot more malleable and thoughtful more than just a hatchet man.

Winning the 2016 league title was perhaps the crowning moment of his coaching career and he showed his mettle at the continental stage too…leading his beloved United past highly fancied Congolese giants TP Mazembe en route to the group stages.

The gulf between class and quality eventually separated the Green Machine from their North African foes — Zamalek, USM Alger and Al Ahli Tripoli.

What I admire about Chitembwe is his firmness and faith in what he believes in.

He took a fading Devon Chafa under his prestigious wing, turned him into a courageous and energetic midfield enforcer.

And for that campaign players likes Ronald Pfumbidzai, Hardlife Zvirekwi, Ronald Chitiyo, Abbas Amidu, and Moses Muchenje all were put in commanding and influential shifts.

That impressive campaign underlines the lofty heights Chitembwe took his career to.

Football painfully doesn't usually judge coaches or players alike by their past performances and results.

Thousands that sit in the terraces are brutal in their assessment of coaches and players alike.

CAPS United fans left the National Sports Stadium a disappointed lot, probably because they thought their beloved side deserved more than a drab draw, but my inner feeling told me it was more than that — it was because of the lifeless performances from some of the players from their ranks.

The only positive they could point from the game was the fearless display of a young fearless Tinotenda Chiunye.

The winger seems gifted, and like any other young player will make mistakes along the way, but he will only learn when the coach, like what Chitembwe did on Thursday continue to show him the much needed love, confidence and courage.

Simba Nhivi, back in the day, was adaptable, willing to mould his game to get the best out of his strike partners.

He was just a marvel to watch when he was introduced as a teenager to local football by Moses Chunga at Shooting Stars a few years ago.

Whatever has happened to him is as good as shooting in the dark. The fans never made it easy for him either, every touch he made, he was booed or whistled away.

On Thursday, probably it wasn't his day or he like any other player has lost some bit of form and soon he might regain his Mojo.

The tragedy that Zimbabwean football has witnessed over the past few years has been the recycling of these "experienced" players from one team to another.

Very few coaches locally have faith in young players.

I long to see for the day when we shall bear witness to a club that will unleash  the new "Peter Ndlovu," the new Benjamin Nkonjera, the new Vitalis Takawira or, the new Francis Chandida, etc.

Our local premier league is bereft of talent and players with natural flare that might bring nolstagic memories of players yesteryear like Rabson Muchichwa, Luis Chihuri, Emmanuel Nyahuma, Francis Jeyman, Mike Bingadadi and Nqobizitha Ncube among a host of others.

Why I named former Black Aces greats is because the club is very close to my heart and it pains me to realise that it has been reduced to a mere academy that even up to now is producing the finest talent that we rely on.

Our coaches should change their approach.

I would single out Lloyd Mutasa, Takesure Chiragwi, Madinda Ndlovu, Herbert Maruwa and Tonderai Ndiraya among the host of premier league coaches who have taken it upon themselves to put their head on the block for youngsters.

While the adage says experience is the best teacher, I prefer to say, the experience should always fear the skill of youth.

*Feedback alwyn.mabehla@outlook.com

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