Mapeza praised the annual Metropolitan COSAFA Under-20 Youth Championships, meant to develop talent in the region. He said it had helped Zimbabwe build for the future.
Although there are still some academies in the country, Mapeza told organisers of the COSAFA tournament that there was still need for more.
“I think there is a lot more that could be done,” said Mapeza. “We have a superb academy which has produced the likes of Knoweldge Musona (TSG Hoffenheim, Germany) and Khama Billiat (Ajax Cape Town), and I think there is more to come from there as well. They are doing a fantastic job, scouring the country for talent and we are very grateful to them for it. But if you look beyond that, then there is not that much else coming out of the other academies.”
Mapeza, himself a product of a youth academy at Darryn T, who went on to play successful soccer in Europe and captained the Zimbabwe national team, said that in the 1980s, when Zimbabwe had sponsors for the academies, excellent players were produced.
“That is not happening now and I suppose that is where we need to start, but we also must try and set up proper junior leagues for Under-14, Under-16 and Under-18. We need to give our best youngsters exposure at that level,” he added.
“We are very grateful to COSAFA for what they are doing in the region and there is no doubt that the Under-20 championships are crucial to us in developing football, not just in Zimbabwe, but all over the region.”
The national team coach said that he would be keeping a keen eye on this year’s tournament in Botswana.
“I think it will be a fascinating tournament and a very good one quality-wise if the event last year is anything to go by. I think Zimbabwe stand a very good chance of winning. As I said, we have enormous talent in this country and I believe they can match any side.”Post published in: Football