One of the country’s leading network provider NetOne, in partnership with four Premiers Soccer League (PSL) teams which they bankroll, have launched a school mentoring programme which is aimed at reaching out to youngsters in schools to take up sport and keep away from drugs and other illegal substances.
The first editions of the initiative took place in Gweru and Bulawayo.
NetOne bankrolls Bulawayo giants Highlanders, Caps United, army sides Black Rhinos and Chapungu Football Club.
The programme is designed in such a way that players from the four teams, who are in most cases role models to most upcoming school-going children, visit schools at stipulated times, giving motivational speeches and the stories behind their success in becoming professional footballers, especially schools where the players would have gone to during their secondary education.
The programme kicked off in Gweru on Thursday with players from Chapungu, Hammond Muchangami and Maxwell Mavuto, visiting their former school, Mkoba 3 High.
The visit gave students at the school an opportunity to meet with the former students who took them through their journey to becoming professional football players.
Pupils also seized the occasion to showcase their football skills by challenges the Chapungu team to a football balancing challenge, popularly known as “MaUps”.
Muchangami and Mavhuto challenged the youthful gathering to remain disciplined and refrain from drugs, whilst excelling in their studies to enable them to build and shape a better Zimbabwe for all.
Speaking at the visit, NetOne Public Relations head, Dr Elderette Shereni said NetOne has seen it fit to use the platform to shape future footballers in such a way.
“Football is the worlds most loved pastime and NetOne has seen fit to use it as a tool to shape young adults across the country through motivational talks and interaction with our sponsored teams. NetOne is proud of its association with all our football teams Chapungu FC, Black Rhinos, CAPS United and Highlanders, and our desire is to see the teams making a positive contribution to society in every way possible. This is the beginning of many more activations to follow around the country and we applaud the schools for giving us a chance to make an impact.” she said.
In Bulawayo, Highlanders started the ball rolling with a visit to Mzilikazi High school.
Three players from the Bosso, Bukhosi Sibanda, Charlton Siamalonga and Godfrey Makaruse, all former Mzilikazi High students gave motivational speeches at the school at a function that was attended by NetOne officials, Bosso chairman Kenneth Mhlophe, chief executive officer Nhlanhla Dube, the incoming head coach, Hendrik Pieter de Jongh, and staff members from the educational institution.
Bosso striker, Sibanda, who has also played for now defunct Bantu Rovers and Ubuntu Cape Town in South Africa, implored the youths to remain dedicated to their studies.
“You just have to believe in yourselves, nothing is impossible if you remain dedicated, disciplined and determined to succeed.
“As I stand before you today telling you about my journey that started at Bantu Rovers when I was a young boy then I moved to South Africa and now play for Highlanders, always remember that you can also make it in life.
“Everyone has a story to tell and if you work hard, one day you will also stand here and tell your own story that will motivate other young kids,” said Sibanda.