Ajax churns out hot spurs

Spurs are sharp and dangerous and when hot, they can be deadlier. But Siphambaniso Dube (37) loves them that way.

The brains behind the team - Siphambaniso Dube.
The brains behind the team – Siphambaniso Dube.

He has for more than a decade been churning out that kind of spurs from his soccer academy in Mpopoma – a bastion of junior football development.

With the advent of cash-rich clubs, the PSL has been turned into a scramble for polished diamonds and that has pushed junior football development to the back seat.

Even the so-called community clubs like Highlanders, Dynamos and Zimbabwe Saints have, since the turn of the millennium, broken with the tradition of churning out juniors every season, to recycling big name players that have already made a mark in the Premier Soccer League.

Competition for league superiority has obviously taken precedence over the future of the game, as budding stars are shut out or promotion.

Ajax Hotspurs School of Soccer Excellence therefore, comes as a powerful antidote to the death of a junior policy initiative in the country, and it is working.

Formed in May 2001 in Mpopoma high-density suburb, Dube’s academy has won junior football awards, produced players for provincial and national teams, fed the elite league, exported talent and pushed a team to the third-tier Bulawayo Division Two league.

The team has representation at every even number age-group between six and 18 years, with its Under-14s, 16s and 18s participating in the ZIFA Bulawayo Metropolitan Province Junior Leagues.

In tirumph - Hotspurs players after lifting the Barclays grassroots trophy last year.
In tirumph – Hotspurs players after lifting the Barclays grassroots trophy last year.

“We have produced the likes of Khumbulani Banda, who has played for Bantu Rovers, Railstars and Dynamos and is currently with F.C Platinum,” Dube told The Zimbabwean recently. Dube’s products also include Highlanders’ Dumisani Ndlovu, Emmanuel Mduduzi Dube of Bantu Rovers and Hilary Madzivanyika, voted among 2010-11’s best 11 in Botswana, where he is trading leather at BMC.

“Two of our boys, Thulani Gumede and Chrispen Machisi are at Pretoria City Sports Academy for trials and they are on the verge of signing,” added Dube. “We provided three players to the Bulawayo team’s Under-14s that went to participate in Provincial Championships in Harare, and two of them, Denzel Khumalo and Reward Muza, made the grade.

“We have also participated in the National Youth Games every year, being the Bulawayo and Southern Region representative for the past three years. Our prime aim is to be promoted into the premiership.”

The team draws its talent from around Bulawayo, with Mpopoma and its surrounding cluster schools being the major feeders. Having recently had enquiries from as far as Gweru, Mutare and Nigeria, only the sky can be the limit for the academy.

Dube has travelled on various soccer developments trips, visiting places like Botswana, where he once stayed for two weeks with that country’s national team and to Cape Town, where he accompanied one of his boys – Chrispen Machisi on a trial.

Post published in: Football

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