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WILLARD Katsande has challenged Zimbabwe’s foreign-based footballers to assist in the development of the game in this country by investing in its junior development structures.

Speaking from his base in Johannesburg ahead of the Willard Katsande Under-18 soccer tournament which he sponsors, Katsande said foreign-based players had a duty to help in the development of the game.

“The backbone of any g national soccer team starts from the juniors and I am calling upon other foreign-based players, who have a little to spare, to invest in our up-and-coming youngsters and in soccer, in general, in our country,” said Katsande.

“There is a lot of potential back home.”

Katsande is part of a group of footballers, who include Edward Sadomba, Peter Ndlovu, Benjani Mwaruwari and Thomas Sweswe, who have poured financial resources into the sponsorship of junior football tournaments in this country.

The Kaizer Chiefs midfielder said holding his tournament annually was his way of thanking the community where he grew up for helping him realise his dream of becoming a professional footballer.

“I am just trying to give back something to the community because I am where I am today because of them,” said Katsande.

“So, this is just my small way of saying ‘thank you’ to the community that raised me, stood by me and believed in me.

“My hope is that imparting the knowledge I have to these youths will empower them and inspire them to reach for higher levels, not just to reach where I am, but even to surpass what I have done.

“We always invite scouts when the tournament kicks off, last year we had Mapeza (Norman) and for this edition we will also rope in other coaches and scouts so that they can identify potential stars.

“Naturally, not everyone can be picked, but even if two or three children are picked then that’s great because it means for those that are picked they are a step closer to achieving their dreams.”

The tournament, now in its third edition, is scheduled to get underway in two weeks time in Mutare.

About 19 teams from Manicaland are expected to take part.

The top four teams will walk away with kits, medals and trophies while the winner will also pocket $800, the runners-up $400, third-place $200 and fourth-placed team $100.

There will be consolation prizes for all participating teams as well as individual prizes for outstanding players and goalkeepers.

Chipinge Junior Academy, from Chipinge, won the tourney last year while the inaugural edition was won by La Sakubva from Mutare.

Source : The Herald