The kids are NOT alright! . . . Premier League coaches shun young players

Ricky Zililo, Senior Sports Reporter

THE fear of losing matches, unreasonable pressure from club executives and, of course, the fans who demand victory every time their teams take to the field are some of the reasons some Premier Soccer League coaches do not give a chance to young players.

A few weeks ago, a panel of sports journalists, captains and coaches voted for the best players in the league. ThThe fifinalists were FC Platinum’s trio goalkeeper Nelson Chadya and striker Delic Murimba, as well as the league’s Golden boot winner, William Manondo who banged 17 goals for Caps United.

Highlanders’ playmaker Devine Mhindirira, Chicken Inn’s top goal scorer with 11 goals on his debut season Brian Muza, Black Rhinos’ forward Eli Kiyana Ilunga and former Young Warriors attacking midfielder Tinotenda Benza made it into the stars’ list.

Dynamos’ central defender Frank Makarati completed the list of the 2022 Castle Soccer Stars.

Walter Musona was crowned the king of local football with the Young Player of the Year being Jayden Bakare of Whawha. For one to be selected for the Young Player of the Year award, one had to be born aftfter January 1, 2003, and should have played at least 10 Premier Soccer League games.

Only eight out of the 18 Premiership teams — Tenax CS FC, Yadah, Bulawayo Chiefs, Whawha, Dynamos, Herentals, Cranborne Bullets and Ngezi Platinum Stars — had a total of 14 players registered under the development quota.

Among the country’s so-called giants, only Dynamos, who were coached by Tonderai Ndiraya, managed to field a player born after January 1, 2003, Junior Makunike, for more than 10 games. Bulawayo giants Highlanders and Harare’s Caps United had no player eligible for selection raising questions on whether they are serious about the development of young players.

Junior Makunike – picture by Libertino

Bosso at the halfway mark promoted 16-year- old Prince Dube into the first team with his highlight being a substitute appearance against triangle United when Bosso were leading 3-0. Dube made it into a number of matchday squads but was confined to the bench.

Jayden Bakare – picture by Libertino

Herentals, Chibuku Super Cup finalists had three players Zibusiso Ruguchu, Takudzwa Chikosi and Takudza Jim, with Tenax having Aristole Manyamba and Tafadzwa Marira, Yadah (Blessed Ndereki and Tanaka Gadzikwa), Cranborne Bullets (Kingsley Mureremba and Tinotenda Meke), Whawha (Jayden Bakare and Sydney Ganje), Ngezi (Walter Vuwa) and Dela Arkoli of Bulawayo Chiefs being eligible for Young Player of the Year.

Fifa-trained youth development coach Sakheleni Nxumalo said most topflight coaches are gripped by the fear of losing.

“The problem is that most topflight coaches are afraid to lose their jobs because they are given certain targets by club bosses. So, it becomes a bit tricky for them to field upcoming players because they want players that are going to deliver, they want players who will win them games. So, as a result, a coach will then not consider fielding these youngsters because if they do so and fail to win and meet then they run the risk of losing their jobs.

Prince Ndlovu

“It’s because of demands and targets set on coaches which make them result-oriented and not development oriented. As a development coach, I’ll tell you that we’re producing good players but coaches in the top flflight are afraid to risk it and give the young boys a platform for them to shine and grow. So, at the end of the day they keep on recycling players with Premiership experience at the expense of youngsters who are very talented but just because there’s this belief that someone has to have experienced players to produce results,” Nxumalo said.

Former Highlanders development coach and ex-national Under-15 gaffer Dumaza Dube said:

“The problem is that we’ve got less trained average coaches who are not competent enough to identify qualities needed to be developed in a player. These top-flight clubs and coaches only fill in the development slots to fulfil the protocol. There’s no harm in going without a junior development player if they can’t compete for a starting place rather than promote for the sake of promoting.

“If you have a brilliant young player, you shouldn’t be afraid to pick him into the team, giving him cameo roles as you build his confidence. Look what Tonderai Ndiraya did with Junior Makunike, at the end of the day the player became a regular because of the confifidence he had developed.” — @ZililoR


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