FORMER Castle Lager Premier Soccer League champions Chicken Inn have registered 14-year-old Mpopoma High School pupil Awakhiwe Tshalibe with their first team ahead of the start of the 2024 season.
Chicken Inn coach, Joey Antipas said they are hoping to help him grow in the game.
“He has been our junior player and we have seen it fit to register him as one of the junior players in the first team. He has great potential and talent. As he goes to school, he is a player that we are seeking to help him grow in the game.
“He will be rushed but nurtured in our club as we look forward to seeing him improve. He has talent that needs to be exposed early. He just needs to maintain his cool, keep his head between his shoulders,” said Antipas, a veteran gaffer who was previously in the senior national team technical bench.
The mother to the young footballer, Felitity Dube said they are overjoyed.
“I don’t even know what to say. I’m so happy for Awakhiwe. However, the challenge is to prioritise juggling his school work and football. He should work extra hard, not get carried away, and represent us as family and Mpopoma High School well,” said an ecstatic Dube.
Tshalibe lives in Bulawayo’s high-density suburb of Entumbane and is the third-born child in a family of four.
Mpopoma High School Sports Academy (MPOSA) director James Rugwevera said they are also pleased to now have a Premier Soccer League (PSL) player.
“Awakhiwe has a bright future ahead of him and is set to break records. He is a skilled youngster. His recognition and registration by Chicken Inn as a first-team player should encourage other young football players. We are grateful to Chicken Inn for making such a bold decision and we are looking forward to seeing Awakhiwe making his first team appearances regularly. We believe he doesn’t belong to the bench,” said Rugwevera.
MPOSA is an initiative that has nurtured several rising footballers including ex-Dynamos midfielder Junior Makunike, who is now in the books of ambitious premiership club Simba Bhora.
MPOSA has also previously provided a home to Chicken Inn right back Arthur Chinda and Hwange’s midfielder Tendai Muvuti among others.
Late last year, Tshalibe was the fan favourite when the Zimbabwe Under-15 side took part in the Cosafa Schools con-test that was played at Harare’s Gateway High School.
The starlet dreams of playing for big clubs in England.
“My dream is to play for a big club in England. I believe I can do it if I keep on working hard and keep on praying that my dream comes true,” he said.