THE African Union Sports Council Region 5 Under-20 Youth Games in Bulawayo have successfully gone by in Bulawayo, attended by thousands of sports fans in the city and beyond.
Athletics at the refurbished White City Stadium and swimming at Bulawayo City Pool hogged the limelight, attracting relatively the biggest crowds.
Zimbabwe came position two in the 10 countries which competed in featured eight sporting disciplines and had most of their gold medals picked up from athletics.
The hosts did not disappoint as well in the world’s most beautiful game, football, which also attracted a huge number of fans, especially at Luveve Stadium.
The girls suffered shock defeats at the hands of South Africa and Botswana with both matches ending in 0-5 scorelines, but they got bronze in the four-team round robin tournament.
The Young Warriors marched to the finals after emerging top of Group A, but were hammered by a more organised Zambia 3-0 at Barbourfields stadium to settle for silver in the tournament.
Castle Lager Premier Soccer League coaches Methembe Ndlovu, Mandla Mpofu, Mark Mathe, Moses Chunga, Mkhuphali Masuku and Prince Matore watched the football extravaganza, a rare occasion to spot talent at the developmental tournament.
Any coach worth his salt watched with awe the scoring prowess of the Young Warriors gunman Thomas Kadyaridzire, who emerged from the tournament with four goals.
He, however, could not match the seven goals scored by Zambian Patrick Ngoma.
The 17-year-old bustling Kadyaridzire, a product of Total Football Academy in Harare, grabbed a brace when the Young Warriors beat Swaziland 3-1 last Monday in the group stages.
He was on target in the 1-1 draw against Angola on Tuesday and weighed in with another goal on Friday when the Young Warriors qualified for the semi-finals beating Malawi 2-1.
The Young Warriors gunman, showing signs of fatigue, however, fizzled out in the semi-final against Namibia and in the final against Zambia on Saturday.
Zimbabwe’s game, depending on long balls, made Kadyaridzire run for the whole tournament, only getting reprieve when coach Tafadzwa Mashiri would introduce his impact players Denzel Khumalo and Thembalethu Mthunzi.
But the lad is definitely a striker to watch. Born in 1997 in Harare, Kadyaridzire has been groomed by Total Football Academy which plays in Division Three in the Zifa Harare Province.
He joined the academy in 2011 and in that year he was player of the tournament in VW Juniors tournament.
In 2012 and last year he was the first runner-up to the player of year at Total Football Academy.
Kadyaridzire was top goalscorer for the academy in 2012, top goalscorer in the Sunrise Under-17 tournament last year and this year he won the best young player of the tournament in the 2014 Harare Safari Cup.
He was also top goalscorer in the 2014 Harare Province Junior Football League Under-17 tournament.
His efforts in the Region 5 Youth Games were complemented by pint-sized Ishmael Munsaka, who plays on the right link, resides in Victoria Falls where he goes to school and plays for Highlanders Juniors when he is in Bulawayo.
Other players of note in the Under-20 squad were Mthunzi, also a Highlanders junior, Bukhosi Sibanda and Denzel Khumalo of Bantu Rovers, goalkeeper Kelvin Shangiwa and anchorman Learnmore Muyambo.