Luphahla’s youngsters head for Dubai

One of Zimbabwe’s best football exports, Joel Luphahla, has transformed his heydays fame into a bright future for those who wish to be like him.

One of Zimbabwe’s best football exports, Joel Luphahla.
One of Zimbabwe’s best football exports, Joel Luphahla.

Luphahla’s grassroots soccer development initiative is called “Dubai 7”, after his nickname and the number he used to wear when he was a top soccer player for Zimbabwe Saints, Highlanders and the national team.

The club trains at Churchill High School in Harare, where Luphahla ended his successful career, which at one time took him to Europe.

“I am enjoying my soccer development initiative and I can assure you that this is where the future of the game is,” said the former national team player, who also assisted with coaching Harare giants Caps United just a few seasons ago.

Dubai 7 aims to take young people off the streets, fight crime, promote and introduce sport in township and rural areas. “Our key starting points included the establishment of a training centre, something we managed to achieve in 2012 and which accommodates children from high-density suburbs and the rural areas.

“It’s sad that during school holidays, these suburbs and rural areas have very few sporting disciplines now, compared to the old days. There is also lack of proper training facilities, so my academy allows children to train and enhance what they are being taught at school,” he said.

The former speedy winger is mostly remembered for winning The Warriors a penalty after he turned former feared Cameroonian defender Rigobert Song inside out at the 2004 African Nations Cup, in a match Zimbabwe eventually lost 3-5.

He challenged football authorities and former players to help put an end to the current situation in which potential talent ended up in the doldrums due to lack of proper training facilities, adding that his school of football excellence sought to plug that loophole.

The Academy has so far produced many youngsters for the local First Division, but the former Warriors star believed most of them would soon break into the PSL.

“I have produced talented stars already enjoying life in the first division, where they are also getting the required experience to take them to the PSL. These include Lindell Mupfumi, Gerry Takwara, Brandon Chibisa, Issa Sadiki, Kuda Mupasiri, Trevor Mavhunga, Pedro Makoni, Chris Chandida, Benjy, Mathias Chodewa and Lazzie Rundofa. I am convinced most these boys will be in the PSL next year,” added Luphahla, who emphasised the need for his players to balance sport with education.

“I want players who are also empowered for a proper life after their sporting careers. I am working hard with local leaders to get my players incorporated into colleges that mostly focus on life skills – like painting, building and motor mechanics, to make sure they continue to make a living outside their sporting careers.”

He also appealed to well-wishers to come forward and help with growth of the sport. “People who sympathise with soccer and feel young people should be developed should come forward and help. I need everyone’s support to see this project grow.”

Luphahla who rose from a young man who grow up on the dusty streets of Tsholotsho, also played for Cypriot outfit, AEP Paphos, South African ABSA Premiership clubs SuperSport, winning a number of medals in the process.

Post published in: Football

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