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Where are the white players in Zimbabwe football?

by Sikhumbuzo Moyo
04 Sep 2021 at 18:42hrs | Views
 COULD it be a true representation of the country's demographics, could it have something to do with negative perception especially on the financial side, could it be deep rooted segregation or its simply lack of talent on their part?

These are questions which one is tempted to ask when we look at the racial set up of the country's football compared to pre-independence and immediately post-independence. There seems to have been some sort of a weaning of other races from the game of football. If it's talent which is lacking, something which even the great Moses Chunga doesn't buy, why then don't we at least see them as part of spectators at football matches?

Once in a while we have seen pockets of white spectators at Barbourfields Stadium in Bulawayo during Highlanders' matches. Seeing whites and coloureds at Bosso matches is not really surprising, as the Bulawayo giants have had the largest number of white and coloured players over the years. It's not that whites don't like sports because they are dominant in sports like archery, badminton, equestrian, rowing and triathlon, among others. They used to be the majority in cricket, swimming and rugby, but the racial shape has changed.

Even at school level, it's basically the same. We have not seen private schools participating in National Association of Primary Schools Heads (Naph) and National Association of Secondary Schools Heads (Nash) organised football tournaments. Instead, they belong to their own organisation called the Association of Trust Schools (ATS). Heads of ATS belong to the Conference of Heads of Independent Schools in Zimbabwe (CHISZ). Perhaps this is where the challenge lies. During their competitions, which include football, it's rare to see local football clubs scouting for talent. Chunga said there is no doubt that talent is in abundant among whites and coloureds.

Veteran journalist Lovemore Dube compiled a list of whites and coloureds that  played for local football clubs and some previously whites and coloureds dominated football clubs.

"From Highlanders we have had Boet Van Ays, Cavin Duberley, Benard Staddon, Mark Watson, Henry Jones, Neil and Richard Boonzaer, Bruce Grobbelaar, Dereck Odwod, Andrew Shue (who also starred in the popular American television series Melrose Place as Billy Campbell), Geoffrey Wheeler, Wayne Albertyn and Pernell Mckop. Hwange had Malvin Kennedy, while Zimbabwe Saints had Tony Machado, Henry Mckop, Pernell Mckop, John Reilander, King Jones, Shayne Khamal and Cedric Green," said Dube.

Others were Duncan Ellison and Charles Jones for Caps United, Graham Boyle and Byron Manuel for Rio Tinto and Black Aces respectively. Football clubs that were once a force to reckon with include Rangers, Arcadia, Bulawayo Rovers, Hellenic, Lusitanos, Callies, Old Miltonians, Portuguese as well as Italia. So, what happened then?

"Early Independence saw a few White players like Duncan Ellison, Mark Watson, the Bonzier brothers and more of coloured community players joining predominantly black clubs. The demise of Arcadia, Cosmos and Thorngrove, among other clubs, seems to have put paid to that talent stream," reckons Highlanders chief executive officer Nhlanhla Dube, speaking in his personal capacity.

The country only has one non-black player, Calum English-Brown, in the Premier Soccer League. English-Brown is in the books of Herentals. "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, In the early 1980s, we had the likes of Duncan Ellison and Graham Boyle playing in the top-flight. They were very good players," Chunga told our sister paper The Sunday Mail. So where exactly is the problem or challenge?

Source - chroncile