IT was because of football that Stephen Alimenda saw the world and even had the rare chance of rubbing shoulders with superstars like Kaka, Robinho and Dani Alves.
He came on as a second half substitute when Zimbabwe played Brazil in a historic friendly at the National Sports Stadium on June 2, 2010, as part of the build up to the 2010 World Cup finals which were staged in neighbouring South Africa.
Alimenda also played for Zimbabwe’s Big Three teams Dynamos, Highlanders and CAPS United.
He won two Premier Soccer League titles with Dynamos in 2013 and 2014.
Since then, DeMbare have never lifted the league championship while Alimenda has faded into oblivion since his retirement from the game in 2017.
However, the former gritty defensive linkman has not been dormant as he has been involved heavily in junior football development, through the Alimenda Stephen (AS) Academy which is based in Harare’s high-density suburb of Glen Norah.
He has a quest to unearth and develop future stars who can also enjoy the same benefits football gave him.
Alimenda will host the Alimenda Stephen Under-13 football tournament at Glen Norah A Hall Grounds on October 28.
A number of academies from across the country will take part in this inaugural tournament.
Sunshine Academy from Mt Darwin and Northville of Kwekwe are some of the teams that will participate.
“We will have players born in or after January 2010 and we have invited teams from the rural areas because we believe there’s talent out there,” Alimenda told Zimpapers Sports.
“The purpose is to uplift these youngsters so that they can get the same opportunities we had during our playing days.
“The young footballers should enjoy their game and develop at the same time,” he said.
The Alimenda Stephen Academy has different age groups from Under-11s to Under-20s.
“We have hosted a number of tournaments before, especially for the Under-18s, but this time we are concentrating on the 13 and under age group because we want to catch them young.”
As part of his efforts to develop juniors, Alimenda has scouted scores of players from areas such as Dotito, Mt Darwin and Buhera who have been awarded scholarships at Glen Norah High 2.
“The idea is to go national with our scouting. We are aiming to have top players in each age group.
“Last season our Under-20s played in Harare Province Division 2A. We were losing, but what we wanted was to develop.
“We now have about 12 players who are scattered across Division One teams.
“At the end of the day the idea is to develop quality players who are good enough to play for the national team and abroad, and also earn good money in the process.
“We need kids to grow up knowing that football can also be a reliable job.”
Just like many academies surfacing across the country, the Alimenda Stephen Academy has not been spared from financial issues.
“We need financial assistance to buy balls, transport fares and food.
“We cannot do it alone; we need support from other stakeholders. Remember, this is also an initiative to keep these kids away from drugs,” he said.