Call to invest in junior soccer

By Archford Chirimudombo

MARONDERA- Rover Football Academy director Naison Mukandiona is a firm believer that
investing in junior football development will ultimately lead to an improvement of the
standard of football in the country.
His academy whose players go through their drills at Rudhaka B ground has three age
groups, that is the Under 10, Under 16 and Under 20 categories.
“In my opinion, football development should start at grassroots and we must have qualified
coaches to steer up and develop players at an early stage. By so doing, our province will be
well-positioned to produce quality players for the future.
“It is my hope that the football leaders in this province will champion for the formation of
junior football leagues in all districts. Selected players from such leagues can then compete
against each other and such tournaments can help in exposing the young footballers’
“It also make it easy for those tasked to select players to compete in national competitions
such as the National Youth Games and the Youth Education through Sport (YES) games
among others,” Mukandiona who is popularly known as Rover in local football circles said.
He also appealed to the corporate world and individuals who can afford and with football
development at heart to play their part by bankrolling junior teams and leagues.
“The issue of poor or no financing remains a major stumbling block to football development
and we see that even in teams that play in various leagues. The onus is upon the business
community and even individuals to chip in and provide some funds for football development
as part of giving back to communities.
“Rovers Football Academy has not been spared by this financial quagmire. We need funding
for equipment, balls, bibs, training kits, transport and refreshments. That is not all because
many things are required to develop a football player,” he said.
Mukandiona formed the academy in 2001 after being inspired Edwin Mutengwa who
coached him as a player for GT Tselentis, Berbat and Junior Chiefs.
Among a host of achievements, the academy came out third at the national YES
competitions in 2005 before being crowned champions in another national edition of the
programme two years later.
The academy’s Under 20 girls won the Ray Kay Kaukonde Games in 2011 and late last year,
they clinched gold at the Tinmac Foundation Sports Festival that was held in Hwedza.

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