Mapeza to unlock European doors

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AFTER a failed career in professional football, Kennedy Mapeza is compensating by trying to unlock European doors for locally-based players.

Report by Kevin Mapasure

Kennedy’s success in brokering deals for players and coaches in Europe and locally with the Warriors owes much to the successful career of his brother, Norman.

Norman made his name playing professional football and Kennedy is also looking to make his mark, despite never playing at professional level.

Norman has got one of the most glittering CVs among Zimbabwean players, capped by both captaining and coaching the Warriors in a journey that took him from Darryn T to Poland via Galatasary, before it ended at Ajax Cape Town.

Along the way Kennedy picked up on a trade that started off by representing Norman, and now he has made inroads after establishing more contacts.

When Norman went for trials with West Ham in 2000, it was supposed to be his breakthrough into the English topflight. He impressed during his trial stint under Harry Redknapp, and would have signed had it not been for work-permit complications.

Despite the disappointment Norman felt after failing to secure a move to the Hammers, doors opened for Kennedy who was to foster a relationship with respected, current Queens Park Rangers manager, Redknapp.

“In my opinion, Norman played the best football of his career during that trial stint,” said Kennedy in an interview with IndependentSport.

“I really do not know why he failed to get that work permit. He had impressed Harry and even some of the players I talked to like Rio Ferdinand. They wanted him to sign but unfortunately he could not get a work permit. They even appealed the decision but to no avail.

“I used to travel with Norman when he went for negotiations or to sign contracts. So when he was invited for trials I travelled with him and had an opportunity to meet Harry. I have known him for 13 years now; he has been like a father to me, and has helped in my trade as an agent.”

The 35-year-old Kennedy has had an opportunity to meet several English Premiership coaches who include ex-Manchester United manager Sir Alex Fergusson, Fulham boss Martin Jol, Arsenal’s Arsene Wenger and England Under-21 coach and former Manchester City manager Stuart Pierce.

But even with his and other local agents’ connections in Europe Zimbabwean players still find it hard to break into top leagues with so much promising talent wasting away in South Africa’s Absa Premiership.

According to Kennedy, there are three key issues that hinder the export of local players to European leagues.

“The first issue is that our junior teams never qualify for major continental tournaments. Tournaments like the age-group World Cups are important. They are the avenues to Europe.

“Secondly our players do not have video footage of themselves in action. Sometimes when you are trying to sell a player, these European teams will ask for footage of that player or they will try getting it on platforms like You Tube.

The third problem we have is that our league is not a major destination for European scouts; we do not get them coming in to watch our games and look for talent.”

Kennedy said agents face challenges in Zimbabwe because players in many cases misrepresent information. He said some players sign representation contracts with more than one agent which causes confusion and sometimes failed deals.

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