Tawanda ‘Mueller’ Mlambo, a tearaway utility soccer player, is the latest gem to be unearthed by the Checheche based Chawira Sports academy while the latter is battling to survive and urgently need financial support for registration and training material.
The 20 year old who can play as an all rounder cut his teeth at Chawira sports academy as a nine year old prodigy, is now plying his trade at Portuguese Third Division side, SC Regua, where he is enjoying his time.
He has plenty to say about his former nursery which is now tottering and will fold if there is no help coming its way soon notwithstanding the Covid-19 induced lockdown which has rendered the academy moribund since last year.
‘’I am what I am because of Chawira sports academy. It’s disheartening that the pomp and fanfare that used to characterise our days at training with Coach Shange (Samson Sithole) is a distant memory due to the current circumstances but I hope the sun will rise again for my beloved academy,’’ he said from his base in Portugal.
Born at Vheneka village in Chipinge, he started his soccer apprenticeship with the Checheche based academy and was their star player up to 2017 when he sat for his ‘O’ levels before relocating to South Africa where his parents work.
He did not stop pursuing his dreams as he continued playing soccer after joining Stamina academy in South Africa.
‘’Stamina academy facilitated my going to Portugal and here I am. Success does not come easy and a lot of people quit when the going gets tough. I am glad I persevered,’’ said the soft-spoken Tawanda.
He has become the darling of his team mates thanks to his ball playing wizardry.
His peers nickname him ‘Mueller’ in recognition of his similarity to the Bayern Munich great, Thomas Mueller. Second division teams are itching to have him on their books.
‘’Given the chance, I would like to play for the national team. Training facilities and tactics here are top notch and given the chance, I would be proud to wear the national team jersey,’’ he enthused.
Meanwhile, the director of Chawira sports, Mr Sailas Chawira, appealed for sponsorship from the corporate world and individuals for the rural talented athletes and soccer players.
‘’Everything being equal barring Covid-19 restrictions, we hope to have trials for both boys and girls in various sporting disciplines in August,’’ he said.
‘’We appeal to corporates and individuals interested in sport to support our academy in cash and kind.
We also need to register with ZIFA at a cost of US$520 and we would be able to register our players just like what other academies are doing,’’ said Chawira.
At a time the Aces Youth Academy is churning exciting talent at every turn, the Chawira sports academy should polish the raw diamonds from Chipinge who may follow in the footsteps of Eddie ‘Chimombe’ Dube and Lovemore ‘Thula’ Mapuya among others who lived the dream and graced the country’s famous stadia with Mapuya being a legend of the Glamour Boys.
Soccer academies are in vogue and if the clubs wish to tap talent from the rural areas, they can invest in ventures such as the one Sailas Chawira and family are undertaking by taking the academy under their wing.