Edelbert Dinha, the Lion roars by nurturing soccer’s young talent

JOHANNESBURG –  SA BASED former  Zimbabwean midfielder Edelbert Dinha, is quietly building a different kind of a legacy in football after  hanging his boots in 2009  through his brainchild Shumba Football  Development which nurtures football talent from SA ‘s disadvantaged communities.

” I  want to  give back to the communities what I have learnt  and what I have gone through. These days soccer is actually a business, and youngsters can actually take their parents out of poverty  to the point where they can buy  them houses, cars, ” says Dinha in an interview with zimsinsa.com at Jozi’s Northgate Mall.

Named after his totem Shumba(a Shona word which means Lion), Dinha’s academy  works mainly with kids from communities such as Cosmo, Thembisa, Soweto and Alexander,between 13 and 20 years old.

“We are hard we keep no prisoners and when we play we show no respect just like what a lion does,” explains Dinha with a proud look on his face.

“Its all about the kids that are good and come from disadvantaged backgrounds. We don’t ask these children to pay like other academies,” adds Dinha saying the idea is to take talented youngsters off the streets, away from doing drugs to doing something useful with their talent.

“We can actually change people’s lives,” says Dinha who most  Zimbabwean fans will remember for starring in Wislaw Grabowski’s youthful Darryn T side that thrashed Caps United 3-1 in the Natbrew Castle Cup in the early 90’s.

If the numbers are anything to go by, it looks like Dinha is just doing that with the academy, which  started with 60 players in the last season in two divisions i.e. U17 A and U19  age group and now has 120 kids in  four divisions in the s  U15, U17 U19 and those  promotional league

Some of his proteges have been Zweli Zungu who is now playing for the U17 SA national team while two  boys are going for trials in Portugal this month.

In 1996, Dinha rejoined Caps,  and one of the stars that won the  league championships that year, with the likes of Joe Mugabe, Charles Yohanne, Morgan Nkathazo among others.

But it was not long before he was snatched by SAPremier League side, Seven Stars, which merged with Cape Town Spurs the following year to form Ajax Cape Town.

He then joined  Orlando Pirates in 2002 and helped them  win the league championship and later captained the team

Before hanging his boots  Dinha has also played  and captained SA’s FC AK and Mpumalanga Black Aces.

Shumba  Football  just won  the Soweto Safe Academy league which consists of the junior teams from top teams like Orlando Pirates,  Kaizer Chiefs, something Dinha says he owes to the support he has been getting from the SA community for his efforts.

“We have been getting a lot of support and some parents are now  meeting us halfway when they realise and begin to appreciate the kind of  work we are doing,” says the Dinha  who has also  played in Poland, adding that  he uses his contacts locally and overseas to link good talent with various clubs worldwide.

But Dinha is not only stopping there and says being a Zimbabwean he has not forgotten the talent in his own home country, Zimbabwe and has big plans for young players, north of the Limpopo.

“I am going to Zim to scout for talent because  there is a lot of talent there,”  says Dinha who  is already working with two Zimbabwean players and has  groomed for 18 year old Zimbabwean midfield  Trevor Gandanzara who is now training with the Zimbabwean national team, thanks to Dinha’s efforts.

“He is a very good player. The Nengamashe(ex Kaizer Chiefs midfielder Tinashe),  (Kaizer Chiefs  midfielderWillard )Katsande kind of  player. I was asked to have a look at the guy and I liked what I saw and now he is with our national team ,” says Dinha.

Dinha says he still maintains his contacts back home despite having lived in SA for about 14 years. “I am always in touch with  football back home ”

“We have so much talent but they are not being noticed thats why some of them end up giving up because they are not noticed but  South Africa  is good platform for them to showcase their talent.”

“With the contacts that we have and we are putting our games on youtube, it easier to market players.

“I am hoping to have  four Zimbabweans in each age group from January 2015, I am going home to scout, If  I can find at least 16 players i am not going to concentrate in Harare only  but the whole country,” he says adding that whatever talent he gets to groom their education will not be compromised.

”The boys education will not be compromised thats the number one priority education comes first and soccer comes first,” he says emphatically.

Though he is not sure whether  when he will take the academy itself to Zimbabwe , there is one thing the  former Orlando Pirates player is  sure of, which is  to  make one of  it one of the e best in Africa .

“And even the  world, ” he adds with a smile. -www.zimSinsa.com