In a move that could change the fortunes of budding footballers, the Zimbabwe Football Association(ZIFA) has embarked on a drive to revive provincial junior leagues, starting with the Under-15 age group next month.
ZIFA unveiled a sponsorship package to support ten team U-15 provincial leagues, to their credit, putting an end to years of neglect for funding junior football development.
The sponsorship will cater for traveling expenses, accommodation, allowances, kits and training equipment for the teams.
Speaking at the Midlands Province Youth and Development meeting in Gweru yesterday, Central Region Chairman Stanley Chapeta said they want to emulate West African countries, Nigeria in particular who have benefitted extensively from robust junior structures.
” This is a trial that comes after so many years without formally recognised juniors leagues. ZIFA has availed funds for this project, to cater for transport, allowances, kits and training equipment for the youngsters,” said Chapeta.
” It might take long for this to be successful and be in full swing but we hope administrators are going to put the effort in all provinces so that we create a ready-made platform where scouts and coaches will tap in talent easily.
” So many countries have yielded good results because they promoted junior development. Look at the likes of Nigeria and Brazil who have been winning because of grooming talent at a tender age.”
ZIFA set the CAF C coaching badge as the minimum coaching badge for coaches to take up jobs in the leagues.
With junior development programmes having rather been peripheral, most topflight clubs have relied on recycling players, with the exception of FC Platinum and Highlanders who have of late enjoyed the benefitted from investing in juniors.