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banner Monday, 12 February, 2001, 13:20 GMT
Zimbabwe suffering in 'brawn drain'
zimbabwe win cosafa
A rare moment of joy for Zimbabwe football as they take the 2000 Cosafa Cup
The rising cost of living in Zimbabwe is having a damaging effect on the country's football, as STEVE VICKERS reports.

Zimbabweans have been leaving the country in large numbers in search of better-paid jobs in the last couple of years, and no more so than in the football world.

In each area, valuable skills have been taken as the cost of living continues to rise at home, and this drain is certainly starting to affect the standard of the domestic league already.

The national team is bound to suffer in time, and is already bracing itself for a major blow.

William Mugeyi, who captained Zimbabwe to victory in last year's Cosafa Cup is in the process of taking up South African citizenship along with his twin brother Wilfred, who plays alongside him at Umtata Bush Bucks in South Africa's Premier Soccer League.

Both have been regular members of the national team since 1993, though if their plans succeed they would no longer be able to represent the Warriors.

That would put even more pressure on Peter Ndlovu, now at Sheffield United, who has often found difficulties with his English clubs when going off to play in Africa.

Quit the game

Other Zimbabweans have left to play in less competitive leagues in the region, where they still earn far more than at home.

Defender Golding Dube left top Zimbabwe club Amazulu last November to join South African Division One side Rainbow Stars, and other players and coaches have moved to Botswana and Swaziland.

Some have moved to the minor leagues of Europe, such as Under-20 striker Shingi Kawondera.

If they can get better rewards in other countries, then we cannot stop them from going
  Ndumiso Gumede, Zifa director of development
Other talented players have quit the game altogether due to the poor financial rewards.

Under-23 striker Fungai Kwashi recently left the country to pursue studies in the UK, a move that Patrick Daka of Black Aces and Lovemore Ncube of Dynamos made last year.

The latter pair are at university in the USA and no longer playing football.

Two key members of the Dynamos team that reached the final of the 1998 African Champions League have also given up the game.

Free to leave

Ernest Chirambadare, former national team goalkeeper, and Claudius Zviripayi, also a former national team player, are now in London doing nursing, much to the disappointment of fans.

It is obviously not good news for domestic football, but the Zimbabwe FA director of development Ndumiso Gumede does not blame the players for leaving:

"Clearly it gives us a problem in terms of development and with building a national team, but players are free to leave if they wish.

"Obviously if they can get better rewards in other countries them we cannot stop them from going.

"Unfortunately we can't match the packages that are offered to players in South Africa and Botswana."

With some players recently failing in attempts to negotiate monthly salaries in the region of $700US ahead of the new season there is little to keep them here financially, and the effects of the sporting brain drain could take years to reverse.

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09 Feb 01 |  Africa
Is Zimbabwe football jinxed?
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