Zifa Northern Region raises the bar

The Zifa Northern Region Soccer League (NRSL) — for a long time touted as the best-run of the four regional first division leagues — is taking its approach to business to another level.

This season, NRSL has embarked on an ambitious project that will see the rebirth of junior football to ensure grassroots development.
The aim is to equip their clubs with enough depth such that when they get promotion into the top flight league they will not be relegated quickly. 

“We have been planning this for a long time now and it has been in the pipeline. Now we are going to implement it,” Northern Region chairperson Willard Manyengavana told the Daily News on Sunday. 
“We want teams to have at least two junior sides maybe U17 or U15 so that we completely harness talent within our region.

“We want to continue to be the leading region in terms of competition and thanks to our sponsor Ruyamuro Service Stations for their continued support.” The Northern Region has always been pioneers in innovativeness dating back to over a decade ago when they made it a requirement for teams to have the majority of their players under the age of 23.

Now, even the Premier Soccer League has seen it prudent to enact such with top flight teams obliged to reserve five slots for players under the age of 20. Manyengavana applauded officials from the NRSL for being pro-active in pushing forward their brand.

“We might be a team of hardworking administrators but this has been made easier by our teams in the region as well as the players,” he said. “They believe they should take the region to the next level by being very competitive and this has helped to market the region and source sponsorships.

“Now you have a situation whereby even teams from the region when they get promoted into the Premier League, they don’t disappoint because they will have quality in their ranks. 
“If you also look in our region, you can’t predict which team is going to win the title nor do we have run away leaders. 

“Champions are confirmed mostly on the last day of the season. Good corporate governance which has seen little controversy has helped our region to remain attractive to sponsors.” 
The  NRSL remains one of the best-sponsored leagues with the Player of the Year getting a car from their sponsors. 

Mushowani Stars midfielder Clive Dzingai, who won the award for the 2018 season, was last Wednesday presented with a Nissan Note car by the sponsors Ruyamuro Service Stations. Ruyamuro Service Stations operations director Gutsa said they are in for a long term partnership with NRSL.

“We are in it for a long term. We decided to be part of this gathering and honour our word as we promised that we would deliver a vehicle to the best player of the 2018 season,” he said. “This season we are back again with another reward for the player of the year as we look to play a role in the development of football in the NRSL while we will also look at other possible areas of sponsorship in the bigger scheme of things.

“A car is an entry point, we believe in mobility, after a hard day’s training or a gruelling 90 minutes of good game of football, the player needs to relax, give him convenience so that he prepares for the next encounter with an open mind. 

“Gone are the days when players used to hike public transport to and from matches. It is a new era, a new dawn, we only had to make sure that we start from somewhere hence the car for the best player of the season but we are determined to do more.”

Dzingai, who was excited to receive the fruits of his hard work, paid tribute to his teammates for the support during the season that saw them gain promotion into the top flight after six years in the second tier. “There’s always an individual who stands out at every competition but we don’t operate in a vacuum. It was only possible through the support of my teammates and coaches but not forgetting my parents and God the Almighty,” Dzingai said.

The defensive midfielder is now looking forward to playing in the top flight when the Castle Lager Premiership commences on March 30. 
Mushowani begin their campaign with a blockbuster tie against a Dynamos side that is on a rebuilding exercise. 

“This is a new competition, a new challenge all together where we will be fighting on two fronts; one to avoid relegation and secondly to prove a point that NRSL is the home quality football,” Dzingai said. 
“It will be an interesting campaign and we are all looking forward to the season kick off.”

Zifa president Felton Kamambo, who also graced the occasion at Zifa House, also hammered home his administration’s desire to build a strong grassroots base. “We want to come up with a football philosophy for Zimbabwe so we are coming up with a youth programme…we to instil this philosophy in them at a tender age so we want to catch them young particularly the players, coaches and referees…we would need people like you to partner us in those activities so that we promote our football,” Kamambo said.

“We have other partners who I cannot name at the moment who have agreed to take over our schools, our youth leagues and our grassroots.  “As for the grassroots, we won’t be having some structures this year but we will make sure we distribute some footballs to every ward. We have over 841 wards in Zimbabwe we just want to make sure that in every ward football is played.

We don’t want to take the limelight from you it’s your day today Clive and Ruyamuro Service Stations I really appreciate the support you are giving to NRSL.” To the reigning Player of the Year, Kamambo said he should strive to make it into the Warriors squad.

“We expect you to do the same in the Premier League…we also expect that come next June, you will be part of the team that is going to Afcon…I also expect you to take another honour in PSL so that you surprise them and prove to them that it was not by mistake that you became the soccer star of the year in Northern Region,” Kamambo told Dzingai.

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