Chunga decries white players’ absence
By Langton Nyakwenda
Local football legend Moses Chunga believes the country is missing out on a lot of untapped talent, especially in private schools and former Group A learning institutions.
Chunga, who is also famed for the successful Dynamos youth project dubbed ‘Kidznet’, has welcomed the signing of Zimbabwe youth international Calum English-Brown by ambitious Premiership side Herentals.
He, however, questioned the absence of white players in the top-flight, whom he said should be brought into the domestic game’s structures.
Ex-Harare City goalkeeper Ryan Harrison is the only white player who has featured in the Premiership since the turn of the millennium.
Before Harrison, who turned out for “The Sunshine Boys” in 2018, Kelly Jacobson had been the last white player to feature for a local top-flight side when he was part of the Highlanders championship winning squad in 1999.
Legends Academy product English-Brown is now set to become the first white infield player after Jacobson to feature in the Premiership following his move to Herentals during the mid-season transfer window.
Interestingly, Chunga was among the first coaches to appreciate the young midfielder’s talent when he included the then St John’s High School student in his Young Warriors side for the 2017 COSAFA Under-17 tournament in Mauritius.
“The emergence of this boy, English-Brown, should tell you a lot about the abundance of football talent in these former Group A schools.
“It’s only that our system does not have a way of capturing this talent,” Chunga told The Sunday Mail Sport.
Although he is now based in Gweru and is coaching Central Region Division One side Chapungu, the coach has never lost any of his passion for unearthing young talent.
When he was appointed national Under-17 coach in 2017, he cast his net wide into previously unexplored former Group A schools and private institutions.
“I said to myself, let me go around the former Group A schools and private schools. I discovered a lot of talent, that’s how I came across English-Brown, who was then at St John’s High.
“In fact, I found that there are so many English-Browns out there but because of our system, we are not capturing that talent.
“I have also attended a number of primary school football tournaments at these former Group A schools and I have seen amazing talent.
“Boys from these schools are disciplined, maybe what they lack is exposure and some intensity.
“Sadly, this talent suddenly disappears off the radar, especially when the boys reach puberty ,” he said.
The local top-flight league used to feature scores of white players in the 1970s but since Independence, the numbers have dwindled.
“In the early 1980s, we had the likes of Duncan Ellison and Graham Boyle playing in the top-flight. They were very good players.
“Surprisingly, the war ended 41 years ago but we are not seeing white players or fans at the games. Yet there is a lot of talent within this community.”
Chunga described the young prospect as a “fantastic player’’.
“If you watch English-Brown, you will see a promising talent. His first touch is fantastic. He is swift and very flexible.
“I always emphasise the need for players to play with their heads up so that they are aware of the environment, and that is what this young boy does. That’s why his passing is accurate most of the times.”
A widely travelled coach, Chunga believes local football can be transformed into a huge industry that can boost the country’s economy.
“Just look at the billions of dollars that exchange hands during the English Premier League transfer window. We are talking of huge amounts that can actually dwarf the economies of a lot of African countries.
“Not only football, but sport as a whole is a huge industry. I have been in touch with the Deputy Minister of Sport Tino Machakaire and we have spoken about this subject seriously.
“It’s only that some of the programmes that had been planned have been stalled by the coronavirus.
“But we can get past this crisis if we can have all our athletes vaccinated and then make a solid appeal to Government for the return of games.
“Sometimes we let ourselves down; why don’t we just do what is required.
“We should all be vaccinated, simple!” he said. The Sunday Mail