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Zifa Should Focus on Youth Development

WITH the Confederations Cup tournament over, it is time for Zimbabwe Football Association (Zifa) to reflect on how teams such as Brazil and Spain have organised themselves and the importance of developing young talent.

The Confederations Cup was an opportunity for the “Samba boys” of Brazil to orient their up-and-coming players to a competitive tournament.

The Brazilians might have their problems in football administration but when it comes to nurturing talent they have proved to be a cut above the rest.
They came to the tournament with four experienced players, that is Kaka, Lucio, Gilberto Silva and Robinho and the rest were young players who were hungry for success.
The exercise drew a lot of positives as a number of the players have shown coach Dunga that they deserve to be in the gold and blue jersey.
These are the players who were identified by a panel of coaches when they were still young and they played in the World Youth Championship last year in Canada.
A host of senior players were not called so as to give the young stars a chance. Young Cruzeiro midfielder Ramires and Corinthians left back Andre Santos are some of the players who played well and can fit in well into the senior Brazilian team.
Enquiries have already been made for these two players with Barcelona leading the pack.
Ramires is being tipped to take over from Ronaldinho although the former did not exhibit the latter’s sublime talent.
What matters most to the Brazilians are not results but teamwork and team spirit and it would not be a surprise to see Kaka being the only survivor in the team that won the Confederations Cup in South Africa. Unlike the likes of Zifa, the Brazilians take youth tournaments seriously.
It appears as if Zifa does not know their job description –– which is basically to develop football staring from the grassroots level.
Most African football federations have “seen the light” in terms of developing young talent through developing soccer academies like Asec Academy in Ivory Coast which has produced stars like Kolo Touré who plays for Arsenal.
The academy owes its success to the efforts of the Ivorian Football Association.
Zifa has all but left it to clubs to develop talent for the national team and have proved to be the missing piece in the Zimbabwean football puzzle as no sound policies are in place for the development of the country’s football.
Nurturing talent should be a top priority with a panel of full time employees being ready to identify gifted youths from every corner of Zimbabwe –– not Harare and Bulawayo alone.
Financing should never be Zifa’s scapegoat as the exercise does not demand huge sums of money. Assuming they need large sums of money, how then do they expect to get sponsorship when they seem not to have a blueprint for football development.

Forgive Chibhutsu,

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