The Sunday Mail
ZIMBABWEAN soccer coach Peter Mapendere continues to make waves in Canada after the enterprising gaffer was recently appointed to the key post of assistant technical director at Ottawa Gloucester Hornets.
The club announced the appointment on their official Facebook page recently.
“Big News… Welcome Peter Mapendere. It is with great pleasure that we announce our newest assistant technical director team member. He comes with over 15 years of local and international experience,” wrote the club.
“Most recently, Peter was the head coach for Ottawa’s only League 1 Ontario team since 2017. He has the highest coaching certificates which include UEFA A-Licence and Canadian National B-Licence.
“Peter has experience coaching various age groups and significant experience in guiding players and Canadian and US University Scholarships (18 players in 2018).”
Mapendere might not have made a lot of waves back home but for over nearly two decades, he dedicated his life to coaching mostly young players, some of whom he has developed into internationals for their respective countries.
He also pays special tribute to former Zimbabwe and Liverpool goalkeeper Bruce Grobbelaar, who he cites as one of his mentors.
In his new task, Mapendere will oversee the development of young talent from Under-13 to Under-18.
He has already developed the likes of Danny Assaf, who was recently called to the Egyptian Under-20 team camp after playing for Canada at Under-15 level.
And with many clubs now emphasising on developing their own talent, Mapendere has a crucial role to keep the conveyor belt running at Ottawa.
“In my new job I am in charge of the Under-13 to 18 age group and this entails development of a roadmap for the club, including development of game model.”
Part of his duties include delivering, managing, maintaining and developing a year-round programme consistent with long-term player development.
He is also supposed to plan and deliver an academy programme with the lead technical director, as well as assist in the recruitment of “qualified coaches into the programme and provide mentoring and support to coaches”.
Despite his playing career having been cut short by injury, Mapendere has remained resolute in ensuring that he plays his part as a coach.
“The lowest point in my career was when I tore my knee ligaments, both my ACL and MCL, and coming to a realisation that I was never going to play at the same level with the same intensity. . . I was never the same after the injury.”
He considers being called to the Zimbabwe Under-20 trials and failing to make the final selection as part of the highlights of his career.
Motivating players to achieve their potential is the hallmark of a good coach.
“To quote Jose Mourinho ‘coaching is taking a player where they can’t take themselves’. . .
“I also draw a lot of satisfaction from watching some of my former players become coaches after their football career.
“The most important part of my journey was also getting my UEFA A-Licence in January 2020.”
Mapendere is honoured to be considered among the elite coaches in the world, especially considering he was born in rural Masvingo.
The only connection he had with soccer was when he listened to Charles Mabika and Evan Mambara’s radio commentary when he was 10-years-old.
He also played for the village team using a makeshift ball made from plastic bags and newspapers.
From humble beginnings, Mapendere is now playing an influential role in the growth of football from his Canadian base.
“My evolution to a UEFA A licensed coach can be attributed to a long road of continuous development and coaches’ education. I attained my English FA International coaching licence at St Georges Park (the home of the 3 lions), which is one of the best coaching environments in the world.
“I have also pursued my UEFA badges in the Republic of Ireland, which has some of the best coaching instructors in Europe. The population is less than five million but the country has continued to produce household names in the world of football. Additionally, I have also visited the Icelandic FA, the smallest nation to ever qualify for a major tournament in the world, to learn about how such a small nation can produce so many good players and beat countries such as in England in the Euros with a population of only 300 000.”
The gaffer has also had study visits to clubs such as Aston Villa, Glasgow Celtics and Wolves, as well as attending webinars hosted by elite club coaches in Europe.
His says his mentors include Bruce Grobbelaar, Sandro Orlandelli from Brazil (former Man United chief scout for South America and Santos Football Club) and Niall Harrison (Republic of Ireland’s emerging talent coordinator).
Mapendere spoke of his experience with the Canadian game.
“Obviously, the experience in Canada compared to the UK and the Middle East environment is different. However, soccer is a growing sport in Canada. With the creation of the Canadian Premier League in 2019 and Canada’s successful bid to host the World Cup in 2026, there is a lot of excitement in the country.
“Some of the best young talent in Europe right now emerged from Canada, including Alphonse Davies at Bayern Munich and another young, talented player who came from our club and now playing at Genk, Jonathan David.”
Canadian soccer continues to attract global attention, especially in Europe.
Spanish giants Atletico Madrid have already secured rights to a Canadian Premier League expansion team.
Mapendere is open to returning to the domestic scene.
“My aspiration is to one day come back to Zimbabwe and lead my local team, Masvingo United, back into the Premier League or the opportunity of coaching any team in Zimbabwe as a way of giving back to the soccer community.
“I am always willing to help fellow coaches and players alike. I am open to set up online coaching and coaches’ education seminars with interested coaches. I am currently doing same here is Canada during this lockdown.”