By Grace Chingoma
St John’s College midfielder Calum English-Brown’s hopes to play for the Zimbabwe national Under-17 football team suffered a blow yesterday after it emerged he did not possess a local passport.
Brown, who was set to break the colour code in national teams which haven’t featured a white player for some time, had been short-listed by Young Warriors coach Moses Chunga for the upcoming COSAFA Under-17 tournament.
The attacking midfielder is currently in camp with the national Under-17 squad preparing for the youth regional championship which begins in Mauritius next Friday.
But he is ineligible for selection, for now, as he has a British passport. Brown has been advised he will have to acquire a Zimbabwean passport first before he can feature for his country’s national team.
A number of white athletes, who represent Zimbabwe, possess both British and Zimbabwean passports. There was excitement among football supporters that another white player had decided to play for his country after the legendary Bruce Grobbelaar.
Of late, the minority race has been shunning the country’s most popular sport confining themselves to the elite sporting disciplines like cricket, tennis, hockey and polo.
But Brown turned back the hands of time by trooping into camp at the ZIFA Village with the other teenage players and attending training sessions at Prince Edward School under the guidance of Chunga.
Yesterday, Brown said the experience and interaction he had with the other players has been amazing. “It feels good to be in camp with the national team. I am excited for what the future holds.
“I think I will bring skills to the team,” he said. ZIFA spokesperson Xolisani Gwesela said unfortunately the teenager was not eligible to feature for Zimbabwe in Mauritius.
“After working with the players for two days, Chunga said he now has a starting point and will name his traveling squad of 20 players today.
The Young Warriors are expected to undergo mandatory Magnetic Resonance Imaging scans today. “So far so good. We are working on the tactical side, but we are not happy with the fitness levels. We hope to continue with these boys even after the tournament and we have captured all their data.
“We will announce the final squad tomorrow (today). We cannot keep working with a large group as it is draining in terms of resources. For the few days we have been working with them we have already identified a team we can work with,” he said.
Chunga said they have encountered logistical challenges as some of the players were writing exams. Three of the athletes are only expected in camp today while Brown was expected to write his examinations after the trip. The Herald