Sikhumbuzo Moyo, Senior Sports Reporter
THE resumption of junior football in Bulawayo remains a pipe dream after only Zifa registered academies were greenlighted by the Sports and Recreation Commission (SRC) to start training in preparation for league games.
There are 39 registered academies in Zimbabwe, but only Bantu Rovers Academy is based in Bulawayo, with the majority located in Harare.
Bantu Rovers Academy is run by Wilbert Sibanda.
The thumbs up was given by the SRC on Tuesday.
“All academies that are registered with Zifa have been cleared to start training,” said Zifa communications and competitions manager Xolisani Gwesela.
Ellita Nengomasha, SRC director of marketing and business development, also confirmed to Chronicle Sport that the country’s supreme sports body had cleared football academies to resume training “as part of the gradual resumption of football in the country”.
Gwesela said those not on the list of approved academies either chose not to register or their registration is not in good standing.
In September last year, Zifa announced new guidelines for academy registration aimed at shutting out unscrupulous individuals and groups that purport to have professional commitment and resources, but effectively fail to set up professional academies in line with Fifa and Zifa requirements.
The move to register academies is also aimed at protecting minors from abuse and ensuring that institutions with junior teams reap fruits of their investments through an agreed compensation criterion.
Among the changes is the inspection of premises, which should have basic and mandatory equipment before an academy is granted the right to operate.
Submission of a police clearance, coaching syllabuses and staff qualifications is enough for registration, with inspection only being conducted when the academy is operational.
“Our major objective is to ensure that academies are fully equipped to train and develop fully rounded players, who can have successful careers and then easily adjust to life after football. This means that we are looking at academies’ abilities to capacitate these young players with other critical life skills. Most importantly, we want to ensure the safety of young players because we have that mandate to safeguard them from any harm.
“Going forward, academy staff and premises ought to have adequate and appropriate training pitches and equipment for specific age groups. Ball sizes, class or lecture rooms for fundamental skills learning, dressing rooms with clean ablution facilities, secure environment for safety of young players, safe and reliable transport for players, police clearance for academy staff as well as qualified personnel in respective areas of function will now be some of the requirements for one to operate an academy,” said Zifa.
The association said academies without their own premises should produce valid lease agreements for training facilities and office space.
“The introduction of the Fifa Connect platform four years ago has helped ease academies’ quest to recoup training and development fees when their products sign professional contracts,” Zifa said.
Although there are presently 39 academies registered by Zifa, the association said the exercise was an ongoing process.
Academies given permission to start activity
Eagles Academy, Sports Vale Academy, Friendly Academy, Harare Elite Junior Academy, Kotwa Academy, Aces Youth Soccer Academy, GPC Academy, GG academy, Football Academy Trust, Jimise Football Academy, FC Dutch Academy, Legends Academy, Zengeza Academy, Six Stars, Effen Burg 16. Glenview, LaSakubva, Brigma Academy, Bantu Rovers Academy, Elite Academy, Real Saints Academy, Regis Dzenga, Green Arrows Academy, Real Sign Academy, Alpha Soccer, DK Sharks Academy, Chipaz Youth Academy, City Football Academy, Betis Academy, Green Light Academy, BN Academy, Polier Youth Academy, Kadewere Academy, Centre for Football Excellence Academy, Majesa, PE Academy Galaxy Academy, Cffe Academy, Legends Sports Development Academy.