Junior soccer players’ development in limbo

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THE inactivity of the Premier Soccer League in Zimbabwe has no doubt affected many professional players’ careers.

Equally so, the junior players have been affected in their development. Juniors football and school football were last played in 2019 and have not been active due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Coaches and administrators feel the inactivity in junior football will have more effect in football where most players will be half baked. According to Namibia-based veteran juniors coach Dumaza Dube it will be difficult to recondition junior players after such a long time without football.

“There is a law of reversibility in technique and skills development especially with juniors, they learn through repetition. In essence for them to adapt to skills development they practice the same skills for a very long time,” Dube told the Daily News on Sunday.

“The law of reversibility affects them when they are inactive, meaning to say they lose what they learnt or they become lethargic. The coach educators at this level will have a torrid time in refocusing the skills development programmes after a very long period of inactivity.”

Another junior coach Mayfield Daka feels inactivity of the juniors training and league will have a negative effect on the quality of players that will be produced from the country’s junior ranks.

“There is a big effect for the junior players because their development has been stalled for two years. The quality that will come out from the player will not be the same,” Daka said.

“We will be affected as a country. The effects will be felt when we participate in the southern Africa regional youth tournaments and also as these players graduate to play in senior teams.” His sentiments were also echoed by Siphambaniso Dube, a junior’s team owner and administrator who said players’ development has been immensely affected.

“Inactivity has been far reaching than most people can realise. Young budding stars will miss a greater part of the development path. Imagine a 12-year-old who was preparing to step into junior football development has been stopped on his tracks by Covid19,” Dube said. “What it means now is that development will start at 15 years or more yet in Europe or America at that stage someone will be making or readying to make a professional league debut.”

According to the coaches, the technical trainers have to design training rubrics which are beneficial to the budding  young athlete. There is also a need for quality understanding of the process of development from both coaches and administrators.

It would be a challenge for heads of technical development to come up with relevant steps that addresses inactivity in the junior development program. They have to come up with internal and external factors which help initiate and maintain organised effort.

The unfortunate thing is it is not known when the junior league will start and it might mean some talents will never reach their fruition.

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