The Sunday News
Ngqwele Dube, Sports Correspondent
ZIFA are set to launch Junior Football Leagues across the country this weekend as it ramps up development efforts in the sport.
The leagues are set to have Under-15 teams and will fall under provincial structures with each province having its own league.
According to a Zifa document, the league platform is aimed at identifying and nurturing talent at a tender age for the development of a strong football base in the country with the teams expected to graduate to an Under-17 league in two years’ time.
Players are expected to feed into national teams and the Premier Soccer League.
Zifa revealed they will support each team through providing equipment, payment of referees’ fees and also meet the administration costs for running the league.
“Zifa shall appoint coaches through its National Technical Directorate and the Youth Affairs and Development Committee with the minimum qualification for the coaches being the Caf C license or certificate in Level 2 Football Coaching while coaches with junior football coaching qualifications and experience stand a better chance of being recruited.
“The league is set to create a platform for provincial player selection with Zifa set to organise inter-provincial tournaments to feature these sides,” reads the document.
Zifa technical director, Wilson Mutekede said Under-15 is the golden age where it is easier to identify raw talent and at this it will still be malleable and easier to work with and develop.
“The Under-15 is a start for us and we are going to include more age group going forward,” he said.
Mutekede said it will be critical for those running the leagues to ensure the matches are played in the correct-sized pitches as this has been one of the Achilles Heel in football development in the country which has seen even grassroots players taking to a standard sized pitch for professional footballers.
He said they would be putting emphasis on the pitch sizes even to grassroots coaches and are already engaging Nash and Naph to ensure different age groups use the right equipment and field sizes including goalposts dimensions and football sizes.