WITH play raging back and forth, it was the home side that managed to repel a dangerous Edinburgh South raid with a huge clearance up the park to the big, powerful Tinashe Mukundwa, wrote the Edinburgh Evening News last month.
oyal High School pupil used his strength and pace to make the break through the centre and he went on to take the ball wide of the out-rushing Edinburgh South keeper to stroke it into the empty net to make it 4-2, the report continued.
Well, finding the net so easily has become routine for Harare-born Tinashe Mukundwa, who is the top marksman for the Civil Service Strollers FC Under-13 side in Scotland with 30 goals so far this season.
This Easter, the 13-year-old Zimbabwean boy will be in a Belgium for a junior tournament to prove if the rave reviews the teenage footballer has been attracting in Scotland are anything to go by.
Tinashe’s father, Milton, says his son is already looking forward to playing for the Zimbabwe Under-17 side.
“Tinashe wants to be a professional and play for Zimbabwe,” Milton told IndependentSport. “He has developed so well over the last two years both in terms of skill, strength and technique and I honestly believe if he continues working hard he will be more than ready.”
After watching Lewin Nyatanga — born to a Zimbabwean father — make an historic debut for Wales at 17 earlier this month, Milton says Tinashe is committed to feature for his country of birth.
Milton compares his son to former Zimbabwe skipper Peter Ndlovu, who terrorised defences during his days at then premiership side Coventry and many other lower division teams in England.
“He’s probably like Peter Ndlovu. He can score from outside the box, tight angles, powerful headers and inside the box,” the father said.
Tinashe, like Ndlovu, might play for a big club soon if the progress he is making is anything to be taken seriously.
“I am sure that if he continues his development programme with his soccer school, he will be able to play for any club,” Milton said.
Tinashe started playing football at eight when he was at Chiremba Primary School in Ruwa before his family moved abroad.
In 2004, the Mukundwas were in New Zealand where Tinashe was voted the Under-12 player of the year at FC Whangarei. Since moving to the UK, Tinashe has been named the player of the month at the Strollers in October 2005 and stands to win many other accolades.
A regular scorer for his Royal High School Under-13 team as well, Tinashe’s exploits serve as a good example of what Zimbabwe can achieve if football authorities implement a proper junior policy.
Nyatanga has been at Coca-Cola Championship side Derby County since he was eight and is now a star defender in the senior team at 17. Tinashe also has an opportunity to feature for the senior Civil Service Strollers, who have been in and out of the Scottish premier league.
Tinashe and Nyatanga would not have dreamt of such feats were they in Zimbabwe, where junior football development has not been taken seriously.
The emphasis on junior football development in the UK is an important lesson that Zimbabwe ought to grasp.
There might not be as much money in Zimbabwe as in the UK to devote to junior soccer, but the support of parents is crucial.
From his experience in the UK, how does Milton rate junior soccer development in Zimbabwe?
“I am not privy to the latest developments in Zimbabwe but one thing that stands out is that parents here are so passionate about their children’s involvement in sports,” Milton said. “Parents are also involved in all aspects of the football clubs, except coaching. You need to be a qualified coach even to coach at junior level.”