By Langton Nyakwenda
Moses “Bambo” Chunga’s penchant for young talent is well documented, for here is a man who believes the boy and not the man can do the job for him.
His famed Kidznet Project at Dynamos in the early 2000s ushered onto the scene baby-faced assassins in the form of Samson Choruwa, Norman Maroto and Eddie Mashiri who rocked the nation despite failing to claim the ultimate title.
He never gave up, returning with another project almost a decade later, this time with Gunners FC, which finally delivered a first-ever Premiership title for the unpredictable yet shrewd mentor in 2009.
The outspoken ‘‘Bambo’’ has embarked on another audacious journey to reincarnate the Kidznet project, but this time in the Lowveld, where his newly promoted Chiredzi FC is oozing with young talent he intends to unleash when the 2014 Premier Soccer League roars into life in a fortnight’s time.
Chunga, who feels his DeMbare Kidznet project could have scaled greater heights had the system not frustrated his plans, is convinced the “conducive working environment” at Chiredzi FC best suits his ambitions.
The firebrand gaffer, well known for his famous verbal jibes and equally popular for his talent identification skills, is building his squad around a number of promising youngsters from renowned soccer academies.
His main worry, though, is the slow response from the local boys although he insists the long-term plan remains to have the budding players from the Lowveld getting a bigger platform to showcase their talent “and make a career out of soccer.”
From DC Academy — the football school that nurtured the likes of 2012 Soccer Star of the Year Denver Mukamba and the gifted holding midfielder Devon Chafa — Chunga has plucked David Temwanjira, a prospective striker who has the potential to match the standards set by his elder brother Mike, who made a name at Caps United in the mid 2000s before he was whisked away to Europe.
Rising defensive linkman Kudzai Nyamupfukudza, exciting apprentice winger Malvern Gaki, linkman Munyaradzi Chiwara and intelligent centre- back Jimmy Dzingai are part of the new kids on the block Bambo is threatening to unleash on his opponents.
Chunga, who is the first black Zimbabwean footballer after independence to play in Europe, also believes youthful Dynamos winger Abel Gwatidzo has a better chance of realising his full potential in Chiredzi than at the Harare giants.
“I am reincarnating the Kidznet project. At least here in Chiredzi the environment is conducive, unlike at that seven million supporters’ club which also has the same number of coaches,” said the former Belgium-based player, in apparent reference to the ever- demanding millions of Dynamos supporters.
Chunga is baffled by the way young talent is doubted in the local league and feels the time has come for the local coaches to “throw caution to the wind” and give the youngsters a platform to showcase their gifts.
“Why should we doubt these youngsters? If we say an 18-year-old boy cannot, then should we wait until he reaches 25? But again, you will begin to say he is old.
“People read a lot about European players who make it big at tender ages, but closer to home they do not want to give these kids a chance.
“If the likes of Wayne Rooney, Theo Walcott and, lately, Raheem Sterling of Liverpool burst onto the scene as teenagers, why can’t we have our own players doing it in this country?” questioned Chunga.
The former Zimbabwe international captain has a chance to unleash his youngsters in front of the home crowd in a fortnight’s time when Chiredzi FC host FC Platinum at Chishamiso Stadium in their debut Premiership match.
“I have brought in some exciting youngsters and I am confident they can hold their own with the Premiership’s big guns.
“We can’t hide away from the big guns, or else we should go back to Division One. When you talk of the 16 top flight teams, you also talk of Chiredzi FC because we are at par with the rest of them.
“Just like the sugarcane we produce here, we want to introduce a sweet brand of football so that at the end of the day people will say kuti Chiredzi ndokuti bhora.
“After all, the whole idea when I came here was to develop soccer in the whole Lowveld,” declared Bambo.
He has not abandoned his trusted old horses, though, as the likes of Fidelis Mangezi, the ageless Rowen Nenzou and Brighton Pamhirwa as well as the newly recruited Maroto are expected to guide the youngsters. The Sunday Mail