By Grace Chingoma
German coach, Dieter Klaus Pagels, says he feels proud that many of the players he introduced into the Warriors team have now become core players in the national team.
Pagels arrived in Zimbabwe as Zifa technical advisor in 2011 following his secondment to the association by the Germany Olympic Committee.
He was then appointed interim coach the following year after Rahman Gumbo resigned following the failed 2013 Afcon qualifying campaign.
Pagels took over the 2014 World Cup qualification process and presided over matches against Guinea and Egypt.
Pagel’s team had fresh-faced players and was captained by Denver Mukamba, who then was only 20, while the chief striker was Knowledge Musona.
“I’m really proud that most of them (are doing) a very good job. It is important to trust young players and give them the chance to perform on a high level,” he told our sister paper, The Herald.
He was speaking from his hometown of Stade, a few kilometres outside Hamburg.
“Zifa announced a better future (for) grassroots, youth and women football,’’ said Pagels.
‘‘They said there is money now to come up with youth leagues (girls and boys), women leagues and better equipment for the clubs.
‘‘That is the only way to success. But it needs time. I hope they have a long breath.”
The German mentor also spoke about the Mighty Warriors, a brand which improved during his time here, as he assisted the team secure high-level training camps in his home country.
“I was really happy about the successful women ‘Dream Team’ of Zimbabwe. To take part at the Olympic Games is for each player an incredible experience,’’ he said.
‘‘But, when I read about the preparations for this worldwide tournament, I was disappointed. I was sorry for the girls.
‘‘They deserved better treatment.’’
He also spoke about Mukamba and the challenges the player has faced.
‘‘Everybody is different. I read in the newspapers about Denver and his problems,’’ said Pagels.
‘‘He was one of the most talented players of his age. To push his self-confidence, I gave him the captain’s armband.
‘‘He took this very seriously and was proud. He performed very well. I hope he is well now and enjoys life.’’
The coach also fondly remembers the three years he spent in this country.
“I enjoyed the stay in a wonderful country. I learned a lot about life in Africa. I met so many friendly people,’’ he said. Till now, I am happy cause most of them are friends for ever. Very often I communicate via Facebook, or emails, with former players or coaches.
“I have no regrets. We worked hard and did a lot. So many teachers and coaches took part in our courses and went back home with balls and other equipment to train the kids in their home area. I met people who only wanted to make football possible for kids and women. I am proud till now to have met them, especially Nelson Matongorere.
‘‘Without him some of our projects would have been cancelled. He always knew how to manage difficult situations. He is very important for Zimbabwean football.’’ Pagels is now enjoying his retirement after his last coaching stint came in Dubai two years. He says he is still available should any coaching offers come up. The Chronicle