Innocent Kurira, Sports Reporter
AT what point in the life of a footballer could they be said to have matured enough to play in the Premier Soccer League?
Our very own greatest of all time, our undoubted G.O.A.T. Peter Ndlovu made more than a splash, broke new ground and etched his name in history through his talent at 16.
He made the cut when he was still teething.
In the 90s, the teenage sensation was called “Nsukuzonke” even before he broke ground in the re-invented English Premier League, on August 19, 1992 as he dazzled the elite parks of the most followed football competition.
Peter got the moniker “Nsukuzonke” when he earned his stripes at Highlanders, a team that made well the ground that moulded his legend.
The Mzilikazi High School pupil was a regular at Bosso senior’s team, on any given Sunday. Ndlovu’s history making streak is unique, but many talented players in the game followed suit.
Nsukuzonke was given a rare opportunity to present his skill at a young age. Back then, talent identification superseded judgement in age and experience. It was all about talent.
If ever age or experience was a valid entry to top flight football, in the yesteryears that was secondary.
Talent, at whatever age mattered. Fast track the clock, the trend has shifted. Fans reminisce of the days when young players would turn their artistry with the ball and make a good wrap to a weekend.
Why are coaches in the top flight league not giving game time to youngsters?
Yet, the same coaches were once given the opportunity when growing up.
“He still needs to mature,” they will say.
That sentiment is not always accepted by followers, but the buck rests with the coach.
But what is it that makes a player mature for the topflight league?
Hwange FC coach Try Ncube notes three aspects he feels confirm a player is fit for the Premier League.
“I believe to say a player is mature for the Premier League, there are three aspects that one should look at. That is the physical appearance, technical ability and tactical awareness,” said Ncube
“Arsenal recently introduced a 15-year-old but did you notice his physical appearance?
“If a player has all those qualities then they are mature for the top-flight. Game understanding is also key. At 18 a player must be able to play in the Premier and have those qualities.
“But then, there are some who are late bloomers who can get all those qualities at a later stage of their playing career. Those are the ones that you have patience with,” said Ncube.
Bulawayo City coach Farai Tawachera says throwing in a youngster in the top-flight depends on the targets and team the coach is in charge of.
“It depends on the type of coach. Some of these things need a coach to have guts to throw in these youngsters,” says Tawachera
“It also depends on the club that one is coaching. There are some clubs that have targets and have to win week in week out and in that situation it becomes difficult for a coach to throw in a youngster or inexperienced player into that kind of setup.
“Even for a coach who has targets it’s difficult to place faith in youngsters when the team needs results.
“But it’s possible to have someone from Division Three and play straight in the Premier League. I will give you an example of maize you can plant on these days but it matures differently,” said Tawachera.
But one fan, Jacob Ncube, says youngsters deserve a chance.
“If the talent is there, let it be supported. I believe we are not giving youngsters a chance. Look at Prince Ndlovu at Highlanders. How many times have you seen him? Some of us want to see the kids because they are the future.” [email protected]
Article Source: The Chronicle