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Mat Owuru, from Zimbabwe to a Canada national team prospect

by Kudakwashe Vhenge

By Trevor Makonyonga

It is very rare to see an athlete blessed with so much talent that even non-sport lovers stand in awe. This would happen when Matthew Owuru played in the purple and platinum stripes of Harare giants, Churchill High School. Prior to writing this article, this reporter asked random people on social media to describe Mat Owuru as a rugby player. Words used to describe him were ‘awesome’, ‘amazing’, ‘bullish’, ‘smart’, ‘athletic’, ‘flexible’, ‘intelligent’ and ‘surprising’.

To think that this talent has slipped through Zimbabwe’s ranks and is now in Canada is unfortunate.

Having been born in Canada to a Nigerian father and a Zimbabwean mother, it was almost inevitable that some day he would move back to Canada. Bustop TV got hold of Kyros Sports who are currently managing Mat Owuru and get the reason why Zimbabwe failed to capitalize and retain such an awesome talent.

“We hearing from the camp that Matthew did very well in a strength test and impressed when he came off the bench in a practice match they played. They now call him the game changer in the camp. When Mat left Zimbabwe he was going straight into the Canada set up. They have an under 23 development program where they are focusing on young talents across the world with Canadian roots and eligible to play for Canada. They put them in a camp and they train together. The goal is to prepare for the next World Cup. That’s how Mat joined them and that’s how he is where is at now. Toronto Arrows watching him now”, he said.

Appalling it is to think that we had him all this while and let him go just like that. Some people in the rugby circles have argued that Mat was overlooked by the national team. He was part of the mighty schoolboy team, Pitbulls, which won everything but not one player was selected for the national team. In less than a year, the same boy we had for all these years is now listed as a prospect for the Canada national team.

From researches made, it is clear that the current system has so many challenges that could see even more young players leaving for other countries. Zimbabwe does not keep a proper database of young players and ultimately overlook them. The problem with the system here is selection is not based on merit and as such it is not rewarding as there is no recording of the form of our players.

It could be almost impossible to determine who the fittest Sable or Cheetah is, who the strongest is, who the most technical is, who the fastest is and who the best possession player is. Selection in Zimbabwe is based on opinion when watching people play other than basic match stats which can help determine who is match ready and who is not.

Such vital statistics are what have been used to determine the suitability of the same Owuru’s, we had for all these years, possibility to make Canada’s national team.

Bustop TV also caught up with Pitbulls and Churchill High School head coach, Jeff Madhake who opined that Brendan Dawson wanted Owuru in the Sables setup and that if Zimbabwe was any better the boy would have stayed.

“To be quite honest, if Zimbabwe was in order in terms of our economy and the systems and if rugby was a profession or an industry most of these youngsters would leave. But with Matthew’s issue, he was always going to end up in Canada. If Zimbabwe was in order I think he would have stayed. He is a young man with a lot going on for himself. He is smart, he was a good student academically and he was deputy headboy of the school.

“He was Zimbabwe’s Craven week captain, he is a fantastic lad and it’s unfortunate he had to go. Brendan Dawson approached me and asked me about this young man and I told him that the decision was up to him and his family. Dawson wanted him to be a part of the national team setup. If he had stayed I think Dawson would have included him in his squad,” said Madhake.

As long as our systems don’t change, we will continue to celebrate fellow countrymen lifting cups and receiving accolades in other countries. Systems have to be sorted for the nation to cut losses and improve in the sporting arena.

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