WHILE most Castle Lager Premiership sides have been making headlines by acquiring new players ahead of the 2020 season, the same, however, cannot be said of Harare City Football Club.
Dynamos and CAPS United lead the cast of teams that have been busy on the transfer market to trigger excitement among football fans across the country.
So far, the Glamour Boys have signed 15 new players while CAPS United have brought in 18 new faces in preparation for the new season.
Reigning champions FC Platinum have added 10 new players on their roster while Ngezi Platinum Stars recently unveiled 12 new signings.
Many people expected Harare City to follow suit after surviving relegation by a whisker last season.
The Sunshine Boys though have remained very quiet in the transfer market with very limited transfer news coming out of the club.
So far Harare City have signed Valentine Ndaba, Ben Musaka, Zvikomborero Bizeki, Emmanuel Mandiranga, Morris Musiyakuvi and Prosper Chigumba.
Harare City chairperson Alois Masepe told the Daily News on Sunday that their lack of big name signings is by design since the club has a robust and functional development programme which produces talent for the first team.
“Our strategy is to ensure continuous, systematic, methodical and sustained talent development from our Council schools to at least the age of 19. We are creating a talent development conveyor belt both for the boy and girl child,” Masepe told the Daily News on Sunday.
“We have functional Outreach Partnership Projects with Waddilove High School (boys’ project) and Rufaro High School (for girls’ project) where identified talented players are placed for their secondary education and further soccer development under boarding conditions.”
The club’s partnership with Waddilove and Rufaro compliments several primary schools around the capital city where the club places their young players.
The Sunshine Boys have in recent years developed into one of the clubs with a proper juniors structure which that is constantly unearthing players.
Probably the high profile player to have emerged from the club’s conveyor belt is Warriors striker Tino Kadewere.
The striker is currently the leading scorer in France’s Ligue 2 after netting goals for Le Havre in 20 matches.
Kadewere’s form resulted in eight-time French champions Lyn forking out a reported 15 million Euro to sign him for the 2021-21 season.
Winger Silas Songani, who recently signed for reigning local champions FC Platinum following stints in Denmark, was given his big break by the Sunshine Boys.
During the current window, City also saw another of their junior product Takudzwa Chimwemwe sign for Zambian side Buildcon FC.
Winger Tatenda Tumba and defender Munyaradzi Diro-Nyenye, who also came up through the Sunshine Boys’ junior development programme, recently signed for CAPS United.
It’s not only in the boys categories that City have provided players but a number of their juniors have also been an integral part of the Mighty Warriors squad.
In the Zimbabwe Under-17 side which recently lost to Botswana in the Wolrd Cup qualifiers, Harare City had two players in the squad — Sarah Manduna and Ropafadzo Maferefa.
“Our Academy feeds to the country’s Under-17 and 20 age groups national teams. The talent being developed also serves our club and other clubs as well,” Masepe said.
“Our coaches are the key to everything. If you have one good coach, then you have 18 good players. Look at the top Academies around the world, they have the same consistent messages and philosophies right from Under-9s through to Under-19s and that’s the direction we are taking.”
In the current Sunshine Boys squad a host of the players all came through the team’s development programme.
Players like Wilfred Muwirimi, Jerry Chipangura, Gareth Madhake, Arnold Mnkuli, Hastings Chapusha, Pio Tellmore and Dinoleen Masukuta were all promoted from the juniors.
The same goes for Emmanuel Ziocha, Macdonald Mukunga, Emmanuel Zinyama, Innocent Zambezi, Stanely Masukuta, Maclint Namakoma and Zorodzai Semure.
“We are creating something. It’s incredible for these kids to be around one another and watch each other grow through the categories as both people and players,” Harare City chief executive officer Tafadzwa Bhasera told the Daily News on Sunday.
“When they graduate to finally play for the first team, we all feel a great sense of triumph. We value and protect these kids.
“We have their needs and what’s best for them in mind with the intention of giving them the best chance to get into the first team. Our priority is to make football players, who will represent the country in the future.
“For us, we will be more than happy if we can have more Kadeweres and the Songanis going forward. To achieve that, we need to be faithful with our junior development hence the reason we didn’t have wholesome buys during this window.”
Relying on their junior development programmes has yielded results in recent years and City have resisted the urge to join the bandwagon.
“We are happy to promote our juniors. Sometimes it’s not all about winning. What’s important for us is to have a strong foundation then everything else will fall into place,” Bhasera said.
“Of course, we fought relegation last season not because we were bad but in football sometimes you need luck. We brought in new a coach last season, and we all saw what happened when he arrived. So, we are not even thinking of relegation.
“I’m sure we will be competitive. We will definitely have a competitive side when the season starts.”