School holiday sessions for young black footballers begin

The Rhodesia Herald, August 31 1978

A TEAM of the country’s top soccer players this week began school holiday coaching sessions for children in Salisbury’s black townships.

And, no soccer-mad schoolboy could think of anything better than spending a full week under the supervision of his idols of the green turf.

Starting off the series for the first week at Zimbabwe Grounds in Highfield, social clubs had been asked to send 60 boys for training.

Yesterday 300 eager youngsters turned up.

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Organised by the Zimbabwe Coaches’ Association, the scheme is the first of its kind in Salisbury and aims to give children some exciting action during what often turns out to be a dreary holiday. Previous coaching sessions were held during term time.

The coaches involved in the scheme are Dynamos star centre-back Shepherd Murape, who has played frequently in the Rhodesian national team; former Dynamos player Cremio Mapfumo, who is now player-coach for DMB Tigers, a Premier Division (North Zone) team and Mick Poole, Heinrich’s Chibuku Brewery’s coach.

“They all want to be goalkeepers,” smiled Shepherd Murape yesterday as children gathered adoringly around him, implicitly following his directions.

“It’s been very popular, but we’ve had too many. But it keeps them out of mischief.”

LESSONS FOR TODAY

“Catch them young” is a principle used in various disciplines to refer to how professionals ensure that children and young people are given life lessons and skills through training, guidance, counselling, advise and mentorship.

This principle is in sync with the Word of God that tells parents to “train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”

The catch them young principle is not an event, but a process that helps society identify and develop children’s talents and their areas of specialty. Most countries are leading in sporting disciplines because of the major investment they make in nurturing children’s talents.

Both Government and children’s parents and guardians must ensure that adequate resources are channelled towards children’s physical and psychological development.

Over the years, soccer teams and other sporting disciplines and sportspersons have set up academies to train and mentor children. Some of the best sports persons have passed through these academies, where they existed.

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There are now a number of sporting disciplines with a Government ministry that is allocated a budget by Treasury. This means that every discipline must have sporting academies, run by professionals.

The academies must be spread out in both urban and rural areas. In urban areas, the high density suburbs must be well catered for considering that they do not have space for recreational facilities.

Despite the economic challenges, Zimbabwe has produced eminent sports persons who can work collaboratively to set up sporting academies, and provide training and mentorship to children and young people.

HERALD