By Ricky Zililo
Relegated Premiership side Bantu Rovers has been split after its directors Methembe Ndlovu and Peter Grieve decided to part ways.
The partnership between Ndlovu and Grieves as Rovers’ bosses comes to end after nine years. Rovers were formed in 2009 and have played in the topflight four times, in 2009, 2010, 2014 and 2017.
Announcing details of the split yesterday, Ndlovu said Rovers’ general manager Wilbert Sibanda will become president and chief executive officer of the professional football side, while Ndlovu will be president and chief executive officer of the Bantu Rovers Youth Development Academy.
“I’ve been working alongside a partner (Grieve) who was here last year to visit the club. He will be working with Wilbert in the senior team. Wilbert will become president and CEO of the senior team. I will work with the academy and we will introduce an Under-21 side. Agent Sawu will be technical director of the Bantu Rovers Youth Development Academy,” said Ndlovu.
“When these kind of things happen there’s a lot of speculation, so we wanted to make sure we make ourselves available. The reason we decided to do this is that while Peter and I shared a passion for developing players and giving them a pathway to the highest level of football, we’ve been doing lots of things from the same basket.
“The impetus for the change is that we’re trying to develop players as footballers and young men so that they get to move on with their lives. In business language, we’re in production and trying to create a platform to nurture youngsters. The second part is to create a football side where they get to have a landing spot on the professional side. We thought we will be more effective if we decuple,” said Ndlovu.
The Academy will consist of the current youth teams of Under-14, 16, 18 and an under-21 team. There are plans to introduce a girls’ programme in the last quarter of 2018.
Ndlovu is excited by the paths they are taking and believes Sibanda deserves his new role.
“Wilbert is stepping up to the next level as an administrator becoming the president and CEO of the professional side. I think with his commitment, aptitude and application over the last 10 or so years, he has really earned it. I want to say congratulations and wish the professional side all the best and I look forward to collaborating with them,” said Ndlovu.
Sibanda revealed that the professional side will take a hiatus in the first half of 2018, meaning that Rovers might not have a team in the First Division. He said they want to concentrate on Grieve’s newly acquired European team in Gibraltar.
“Recently Grieve extended his investments in Europe and focus for the first half of 2018 will be on ensuring our sister club in Gibraltar, Europa PT FC, is ready to accept select Zimbabwean players in the July 2018 transfer window. After that the professional side will then turn attention to recruiting a technical staff, signing players and building the club infrastructure in anticipation of the 2019 season,” said Sibanda.
The professional side is expected to change its name at a later stage.
“For now we will still have Bantu Rovers, the professional side and Bantu Rovers’ Academy. In time, the professional side will announce its new name. Another thing to note is that the Academy’s Under-21s will not compete in the same league as the professional side, meaning that our preferred destination for the academy will be Division Two,” Ndlovu said. The Chronicle