SIMBA Bhora midfielder Ronald “Rooney” Chitiyo has heaped praises on the organisers of the annual Mwalimu Kumbula football tournament for regularly producing talented players.
The talented star, who has won two league titles with Dynamos and CAPS United, is one of the products of the increasingly popular football jamboree.
The fiesta is the brainchild of one of Epworth’s most illustrious sons, Musekiwa Kumbula, and it is held in honour of his son Mwalimu.
Speaking at the end of the seventh tournament where he was the guest speaker on Saturday, Chitiyo said the tournament is one of the most rewarding in terms of honouring its objectives.
“Epworth is full of sporting talent as you are all aware. But mostly, as a peri-urban settlement, youngsters here lack the much-needed exposure to move to the next level in terms of their careers,” said Chitiyo.
“I am from this settlement and I tell you, without this tournament, most probably I wouldn’t have been noticed.
“This is not a one-day event. As you know it starts from the cell eliminators up to the finals which we are witnessing today (last Saturday).
“That means youngsters, those who play football and even those who do not, all would be spending most of their time at the football grounds rather than engaging in socially detrimental activities such as drug abuse and other criminal activities.
“I would like to encourage all of you aspiring professional footballers to keep focused and put in the work for you to attain your goals”.
Besides Chitiyo, the Mwalimu Kumbula tournament has also helped shape out careers for the Triangle duo of Blessing Kagudu and Emmaculate Mawuna as well as Daniel Chakanyuka of Black Rhinos, Anesu Jaravaza, who is at Bulawayo Chiefs, and Wangu Mazodze’s Lucky Itimu, among other players plying their trade with different teams across the league system.
Kagudu, who scored one of the best, if not the best goal in a league match against Sheasham at Bata Stadium recently, said grassroots tournaments are the backbone of the game in the country.
“I was born and bred in Epworth, but I never thought that one day I would play football in the top-flight league.
“I was like any other kid just playing for the sake of playing. But once I won the Mwalimu Kumbula’s best Under-16 player of the tournament back in 2017, I suddenly changed my mind.
“I began to take the game seriously and with the help of some senior guys in Epworth, including Chitiyo, I was training hard all day.
“That is how I was noticed by Legends Academy who signed me for further development.
Epworth Sports Association chairman, Shepherd Mudzamiri said: “These youngsters are now shunning detrimental activities such as alcohol abuse so that they compete well and win the tremendous prizes on offer.”