Zimbabwean football is experiencing a dearth of skilful players who can mesmerise fans and fill stadiums because junior football has been neglected for too long, interim ZIFA president Gift Banda has said.
Banda, the former Njube Sundowns owner, said junior football development has not received the attention it deserves despite financial support from FIFA. Banda said:
It really pains me, having been a football club owner before, who has promoted youngsters, some of whom are still playing today.
It’s a pity that we are not finding any juniors coming from the junior leagues.
Why is that so? It’s because we have never had a direct policy that supports junior football in Zimbabwe.
It’s so sad that even the grants that were coming (from FIFA) intended for junior football development never found their way to the intended target.
That’s why we find ourselves in the situation we are in now. We have disregarded junior football.
It’s non-existent except for a few football-loving individuals in Harare and Bulawayo who have kept junior football alive.
But from the association’s point of view, I would really like to urge my board members that we put a lot of effort in resuscitating junior football because this is where we are going to get the next Peter Ndlovus, the Moses Chungas and the people who mesmerised us during the yesteryears.
In terms of filling the stadiums, we no longer see the stadiums full these days.
The senior national team, the Warriors, lost two players in the last few months following the retirement of Khama Billiat and former captain Knowledge Musona.
Musona and Billiat were products of the Aces Youth Soccer Academy, one of the few institutions involved in nurturing talent.