Rest Mutore, Sports Reporter
FORMER footballer Stephen Alimenda believes a vibrant junior policy can help the country produce players who thrive in the world’s top leagues.
Alimenda, who turned up for the country’s three traditional giants, Dynamos, Highlanders and CAPS United, says a number of players lack the basics of football which are usually taught at academies.
Zimbabwe has only two players in Europe’s top five leagues – Marvelous Nakamba at Premier League side Aston Villa and Marshall Munetsi at Ligue 1’s Stade de Reims.
They are both products of academies.
The duo follows the footsteps of Zimbabweans like of Peter Ndlovu, Benjani Mwaruwari, Bruce Grobbelaar and Knowledge Musona who played in the Bundesliga.
And to have an input in that area, Alimenda now runs a football academy – Alimenda Stephen Football Academy – with the main thrust being to develop football from grassroots level.
Through his football school, Alimenda has come up with an initiative that will junior teams participating in tournaments to be attended by various football coaches.
He plans to do the first edition at the end of this month, on September 29, with at least eight teams expected to take part.
Alimenda said he will send memos to other football academies in the country with others willing also free to get hold of him for consideration.
“I believe those involved in junior football have a big role to play in nurturing youngsters. Most of the boys lack the basics of football when they are exposed to competitive football.
“A footballer from Zimbabwe goes for trials with a player who has been nurtured well. He/she become exposed especially when they lack the basics. Serious clubs don’t sign such players.
“That is the reason I decided to have this academy. Still I felt I cannot do alone. I then decided to do some tournaments which we will invite top players and coaches to talk to the boys. That alone will motivate them and get to know what they will encounter in their careers.
“So I have organised an U19 tournament on September 28 at Glen Norah A Hall Grounds with those interested free to get in touch on 0736394866.
“We are working on having a big event which we will take to various suburbs, we want to catch them young. So we are also appealing to those who want to partner to also come forward and have a helping hand in this noble cause,” said Alimenda.
Having started playing football at a young age, Alimenda said he is passionate about junior football.
he started his football career with Chrome Stars in Division One when he was still a schoolboy and he doesn’t want others to encounter some of the challenges he faced.
“I also started my career as a young boy and that’s the reason I want to help. We develop footballers from the age of four up until to 21 years though this tournament is restricted to U19s,” he said.
Alimenda started his topflight football at Lanchashire Steel joining from Chrome Stars.
He went on to play for teams like Mwana Africa, Highlanders, CAPS United, Hardbody and Dynamos.
Known for his gritty style of play, Alimenda once had a career threating injury which sidelined him for one year six months.
He was given the lifeline by Godfrey Tamirepi at Hardbody before joining Dynamos.