The Sunday News
CLUBS should invest in equipment for junior development if they are to reap rewards.
This call has been made by former Bantu Rovers, Black Mambas and Hwange attacking midfielder Fortune Fokoza Ncube now a junior development coach holding a Caf C Diploma.
“Juniors are often ignored. They are an accident that happens within our clubs yet there is no proper investment. It is common to find a club with juniors numbering over 40 using one tattered ball, with no cones and just one coach. This is abnormal and flies in the face of seriousness.
“My call is for club to sincerely invest in juniors. This is the future of the game and club. For clubs to sustain themselves they need to put more resources as players could later be sold and be a source of revenue,” said Ncube who is back in the country from his South African base Sporting CP of Johannesburg.
A self-confessed believer in youth development, Ncube said he had observed that a lot of clubs in this country did not believe in development yet they wanted young players for their teams.
“Ironically all clubs want junior players in their teams. They dream of cashing on them when they sell them to clubs outside the country. Unless we all focus on grassroots development as a country, we will not achieve our full potential. All successful sporting clubs and codes have one thing in common — vibrant junior development programmes,” said the boyish coach who many call Fokoza.
His belief in junior development stems from the fact that he also came from the structures.
Born in 1986, Ncube started playing junior football at the age of nine (9) at Haverson Masilela’s New Orleans.
“Masilela is an unsung football hero. May his soul rest in eternal peace. He shaped the footballing lives of many in Entumbane, Bulawayo and Zimbabwe in general. From Orleans I went to play in the Bulawayo Province leagues under Zifa at Gugulethu where Eugene Dube was in charge. They were passionate about junior development and sacrificed a lot as individuals for us to be better people in sport for no gain.
“You have to love kids. You must be prepared to work for little or nothing comforted by the genuine desire to create the next big player in the country,” said Ncube.
Apart from equipment, Ncube said facilities for juniors needed attention.
“As an afterthought of which juniors are, the fields on which juniors train are not up to standard too. We have so much to be done,” said Ncube who moved to Rutz Celtics to train under Charles Dliwayo, one of the city’s best junior coaches.
He was able to get the late Nhamo Rusamo to pay his school fees at secondary education level for the first two years.
Ncube would continue to impress as a winger and attacking midfielder having played as a striker at Mthombowesizwe Primary School. His next port of call was Cosmos of Entumbane who plied their trade in the Zifa Bulawayo Province Division Two League.
His stint saw him pay his own school fees.
Ncube was involved at primary schools football at the same time with Paul Mpofu, Patrick Mpofu, Charles Sibanda, Thembelani Ncube, Mtshumayeli Moyo, Prince Ndongo Ncube, George Duburo and Reynard Ndofa who played Division One and Premiership soccer. These players were at the three Entumbane schools Ntabeni, Mthombowesizwe and Manyewu.
“We had a very competitive network in the suburb and even in the streets of Entumbane. I am not surprised we went that far in the game, football was a life for us as kids, we knew of no other entertainment other than the game,” said the former speed merchant whose dribbling and creativity stunned many a defender.
From Cosmos, Ncube joined Bulawayo Arsenal where under Themba Tshuma he got a chance to be recommended to Dynamos FC by Mtshumayeli Moyo.
By then Dynamos were under the tutelage of Moses Chunga who fielded the young lad in a reserve team match. Ncube impressed and scored a double but his Bulawayo handlers could not sanction the move.
“They reasoned that Dynamos was too big a stage for me then. Gift Lunga Senior would later recommend me to Willard Khumalo then Lancashire Steel coach who would the next weekend come to watch me. I lived up to expectations scoring a hat-trick and the move to Lancashire Steel materialised. I met guys like Tongai Magwendere there and several other great players like the Sande brothers,” said Ncube.
He was to return to Bulawayo to join Bantu Rovers and in 2010 a move to Hwange came by.
With the likes of Simon Njeleza, Ntokozo Tshuma, Timothy Sibanda, David Boriwondo, Geoffrey Ndlovu and Alick Nyoni, Ncube established himself as a vital cog of the team.
This earned him a place among the 11 Soccer Star of the Year finalists for the season.
“It was a great honour to be among the top players in the country. I worked hard, I created a lot of chances and scored some great goals,” said Ncube.
Ncube would later play alongside his childhood hero Peter Ndlovu at Black Mambas and Twalumba before moving to Border Strikers where he retired in 2016 because of eyesight problems.
Dynamite comes in small packages, and all teams lucky to have had him in their books enjoyed his no holds barred approach that saw him roast defenders with impunity. His eye for goal, great sense of team players saw him being unlike the conventional dribblers who do it for fun, Ncube did it when need arose to beat an opponent to create space.
Ncube said he admires Norman Mapeza’s coaching work ethic and was inspired by the likes of Peter Ndlovu as a player.
“Zongo (Peter) has been a great footballer and ambassador. He was every teenager’s most influential football personality. I liked the way he played and I am a Liverpool fan,” he added.
His South African employers have direct links with Portuguese club Sporting CP whose best known products include Christiano Ronaldo and Luis Figo.
Ncube has turned to football philanthropy, sponsoring a boys’ Under-14 tournament and a girls’ gala.