IT’S every parent’s dream to a see their child pursue a dream at a young age and a Zimbabwean mother based in the United Kingdom couldn’t be more proud after her daughter signed for Leicester City Football Club.
Leicester City Football Club — the 2015/ 16 English Premier League champions — own a women’s team known as the Leicester City Women Football Club that plays in the FA Women’s Championship.
The ladies football club also runs the Leicester City Women Development Centre, which at the beginning of the 2017/ 18 season expanded to cater for age groups from Under-13s to Under-18s.
It’s in the Under-13 age group that Chido Rugara, a nine-year-old girl with Zimbabwean roots, is nurturing her talent as a budding footballer.
For a little girl that showed keen interest in football when she was only seven years old, her mother Zondy Sibanda says it didn’t come as a surprise when her daughter was signed by the Leicester City Women Football Club Under-13 side after trials in July.
“I was humbled and honoured when my daughter was signed in July by a professional club, a team which is a big part of our home city Leicester and I hope she progresses to have a bright future in her chosen dream of playing football and also motivate other kids to be actively involved in sport,” said Sibanda.
Leicester City FC shocked the world when the team defied the odds to be crowned the English Premier League 2015/ 16 champions beating seasoned campaigners such Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester City.
It’s not surprising that Rugara’s favourite player is striker Jamie Vardy, a hero of the championship and history making squad whose exploits left the world in awe.
“She adores Jamie Vardy as well as Lionel Messi of Barcelona whom she says plays smart football. She was also inspired by watching the Gems during the Netball World Cup here in England and how they made us proud to be Zimbabweans,” she said.
How does the nine-year-old balance her studies and sports?
“She did gymnastics and excelled at it but had to drop out of the classes to concentrate on football and I think for a young girl Chido is doing fairly well in balancing her school work and soccer. As she grows older she will make informed decisions on the profession she would like to pursue but for now it’s important she does what she enjoys the most, which is playing football,” she added.
The young footballer also plays for her school team and is the only girl in an all-boys team.
England is revered for robust junior football development systems, also known as academies, where a club will sign multiple players at very young ages and teach them football skills required to play at that club’s level and style of football.
Clubs are often restricted to recruiting locally based youngsters, but some larger clubs such as Arsenal, Real Madrid, Manchester United and Chelsea also recruit foreign talent and are regarded as having the finest youth academies and have produced many players regarded as some of the best in world football.