Playing an attractive style of soccer is good, but winning while showcasing
an exciting brand of football is a rare “holy grail” connoisseurs of soccer rarely get to
This past weekend the AYSA Under 17 squad managed to achieve this feat.
Their delicious gourmet serving of total soccer, saw them claiming the inaugural Universal
Football Management (UFM) Under 17 Tournament Trophy, with a combination of style
The 16 team tournament, hosted over two days at Prince Edward School, saw AYSA
battling out with soccer heavyweights such as the hosts and new kids on the block,
Manicaland Juniors of Excellence Academy (MAJESA).
On the first day of the Tournament the AYSA Under 17s opened their account by
dispatching Dreamers 2-0 courtesy of strikes by mercurial striker Tanatswa “Shoki”
Mashoko and winger Benjamin Goliath.
The second fixture was against another academy with a similar sounding name,
That’s where the similarities ended though, as the later sought to disrupt AYSA’s
flow through frustrating them.
These tactics clearly had limited success as the AYSA boys not only remained
composed but moved a gear up to record three unanswered goals courtesy of a Tanatswa
Mashoko brace and a Lewis Chabuka penalty.
The last group game was against an initially spirited Gillingham side who eventually
ran out of steam with Benjamin Goliath striking twice and a Godwin “Gordy”
Padzakashoma penalty proving to be the knockout blow.
With legs inevitably now heavy, after a day of back to back fixtures, it took the
rousing words of David “Arteta” Muzhingi, the AYSA Under 17 Coach, to steel his charges
“This is where character now counts boys,” the Gaffer implored the team during
The boys duly responded with a visually impressive display of one touch soccer and
a rhythm that had spectators comparing them to the legendary Barcelona side of the late
2000s into early 2010s.
Kerin knocked out and a Sunday morning date with arch rivals Prince Edward School.
Dubbed the “Final before the Final”, the clash with PES lived up to its hype.
Now donning a dapper kit of ocean blue and white, the AYSA squad exhibited the calmness
associated with the colour of their kit.
Relentless attacks employing calculated aggression and seamless movement of ball
and players, eventually birthed a solitary goal for Tanatswa “Shoki” Mashoko.
Attempting to employ similar tactics, PES responded with a late rally that despite a
few shots on target, saw AYSA keeper Kelvin Ben maintaining a clean sheet.
The stage was now set for a grand finale pitting AYSA against Mutare based MAJESA.
An almost hour long tussle saw the final whistle go with neither of the finalists drawing
With a ripple of adrenalin flowing through spectators, the two sides lined up for the
dreaded penalty shootout.
Godwin Padzakashoma, Lewis Chabuka, Dein Mazivire and Benjamin Goliath
notched up three goals between them, leaving the “burden to decide the match to Sean
The livewire Number 8 stepped up to the moment and slotted in a well weighted
shot that saw AYSA seize the trophy as 4-2 winners over MAJESA.
There were however still more cherries to top the cake as the tournament
organizer’s crowned Coach David “Arteta” Muzhingi as “Coach of the Tournament, Sean
“Raja” Fireyi as the “Player of the Tournament and the nimble Kelvin Ben as the
“Goalkeeper of the Tournament”.
This award haul totaled three out of the four honours on offer.
Coach David said the win highlighted AYSA’s ongoing objective.
“As an academy we are achieving what we set out to do and that is developing
youngsters talents to the fullest.
“I’m very happy that this win shares with the country and the world what we are
doing,” the Under 17 Gaffer said.
Both Kelvin Ben and Sean “Raja” Fireyi attributed their success at the Tournament
to their team mates.
“I was able to maintain a clean sheet because I was always communicating with my
defenders and at AYSA our slogan is ‘keep that zero[clean sheet]’ not just at a Tournament,
but in all games,” the AYSA Under 17 shot stopper said.
Asked about the pressure of taking the decisive penalty, Sean “Raja” Fireyi said that
encouragement from team mates had strengthened him.
“Yes I was nervous but my team mates reassured me that I would make it” the
powerful runner said.
The AYSA Under 17 squad is a tight knit band of brothers who have risen together, with
their Coach, from Under 12 to their present level.
A playing philosophy espoused by AYSA has seen them express a fluid brand of
soccer that revolves around skillful ball control and movement regardless of a player’s
The UFM Under 17 Tournament was particularly emotional for them as it marked their
first foray into competitive soccer after a two year COVID induced hiatus.