Former warrior gives back to community
Former soccer great, Eddie Mukahanana, has not forgotten his roots. Despite hanging up his boots 10 years ago, he is passionate about the need to nurture young feet in Zimbabwe and empower youths in various ways.
He recently established the Simunye Projects Academy as a not-for-profit organisation in Zimbabwe, to provide life-changing opportunities to impoverished youths with the ambition to play soccer and further their academic pursuits.
“Simunye will provide scholarships to youths to pursue their education while developing their soccer talent. The project aims to promote the development of a residential training centre where beneficiaries will be involved in life skill programs relating to HIV/Aids awareness and prevention, gardening for food security and poultry,” said a confident Mukahanana.
The man behind EM Sports Academy-Eddi Mukahanana.
Currently based in Canada, Mukahanana sacrificed an eight-acre family farming plot in Kensington, about 20km outside Bulawayo, to start the Simunye Projects training centre, which will be open to any young person from across the country.
The residential training centre will be home initially to boys in the 14-16 age group and will boast irrigated soccer fields and tennis courts, with construction already underway. Mukahanana plans to ensure that the food produced on the plot will be consumed by the young beneficiaries, while some of it will be sold to raise income that will make the centre self-contained.
Mukahanana, a former Zimbabwe Saints left back and Warriors player, believes that he has to give back to the country.
“My goal is to identify good soccer players that have academic ambition. I will then help them graduate to secondary school and then send them abroad to university on soccer scholarships. I had the opportunity to study abroad so I feel I should enable others to do the same. I hope that these youngsters will one day become ambassadors of Simunye and the country as a whole,’’ he said.
He took his inspiration from the similar project he runs in Canada, EM Sports Academy, which has produced the likes of Warriors players Simon Munawa, currently with Highlanders, and Kevin Skobo who is playing for Bantu Rovers. Skobo also played in the Under 17, 20 and 23 national soccer teams in Zimbabwe.
Simunye is set to penetrate communal areas of Matabeleland, Manicaland and Mashonaland in search of talent to groom. A holder of a UEFA A coaching licence, Mukahanana started his career with Zimbabwe Saints when he was just 17 years old.
He featured for Zimbabwe’s junior soccer teams under the tutelage of Steve Kwashi and Wesley Grabowski.He played for the senior side under the mentorship of Bruce Grobelaar as well as Ian Porterfield.
In 1995 he got a scholarship to attend the US California State University, where he featured for Des Moines Menace and USL Central Coast Roadrunners in the A-league.
The nomadic soccer player also had a brief stint with Russian league outfit, Rostov FC, in 2001 and in 2002, he was forced out of the club by an injury and returned to the US where he retired the same year.