Zim’s Young Pep chasing Major League Soccer Dream

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For United States-based Young Pep of Zimbabwe football, Paradzai Samkeliso Ncube, the only person that stands between him and his dream is the will to try and the belief that it is possible, as coined by one Joel Brown.

For this Harare-born mentor enjoying the sky heights of New York in his second year around, dreams aren’t what he leaves behind when morning comes but are the stuff that fills him in every living moment.

They are not just what he envisages in sleep but what doesn’t let him sleep and today’s answer to tomorrow’s questions. 

Unapologetically so, forgive him for adding Major League Soccer as the latest of the dreams he hopes to touch and live through. After all, it’s allowed to dream.

For now, he has to focus on the dream through the meanders of US soccer terrain that saw him, through the Pathfinder FC, conquer the UPSL Division One unbeaten last season into the UPSL Premier Division.

Young Pep before training


With the Match Day Two away fixture to New York Renegades FC at Cantiague Park on Sunday, the 2-1 win over New York Bravehearts SC on April Fool’s Day was not a fooling result but instead breathed new hope towards fresh targets adding the MLS into the bucket.

Having braved their hearts to rally from behind the Premiership season opening 2-1 triumph over New York Bravehearts SC last Saturday, Ncube now believes that a major MLS dream is possible. He will pray to chalk up a second consecutive win against New York Renegades FC at Cantiague Park.

Last week Pathfinder FC had to fight back after falling to a Johan Velez 7th-minute strike. Thomas Zimmer drew level on the half-hour mark before Kevin Cordoba Chaverra’s winner three minutes shy of halftime sealed the win for Ncube’s side.

In an interview from his base, the budding believes they are ready.

“We’re ready for the challenge in the UPSL Premier Division. Last season, we played very well in the UPSL Division 1, and Pathfinder FC finished the season unbeaten. The club booked a ticket to play in the UPSL Premier Division. 

Young Pep coaches discussing the game.


“I want to thank my technical team and the players for the job well done throughout the season. For us at Pathfinder FC, it was not an easy journey; even for me, as a manager, it was tough.

“But all the credit goes to the boys; they had to adjust to my philosophy which saw us winning games quickly.

“My main objective is to get this club promoted to MLS, whether tomorrow or the day after tomorrow. I’m confident that I will see it happen soon. 

“The lads had four points to master: the ball, the space, the opponent and their teammates. 

“Every time we had good movements happening in relation to these points, it saw us winning. Our focus has shifted to the new league, and we will take it one game at a time,” said Ncube, affectionately known as Young Pep.

Ncube’s impact in his second year after joining the US outfit from FC Malaga has earned Pathfinder the unbeaten tag, now becoming the second barrel surname as most of their development side, which the Zimbabwe-born coach works with, finished the last season without defeat.

Born in Harare, Ncube grew up at Chikurubi Support Unit camp, where his father was a police officer and started playing soccer at a tender age but, during the run, got injured for the love of football and pursued his dream to become a coach.

Young Pep strategising


It all happened in good faith when he got his first coaching licence at Black Mambas with John Toto Ncube, who helped him through his experience but later moved to Twalumba and worked with Wilson Mutekede, Mike Madzivanyika and Gift “Umbro” Muzadzi.

That’s where the nickname Young Pep started when the owner of Twalumba, the late Nkululeko Sibanda, coined the Young Pep nickname. 

READ:Lyle Foster’s Burnley FC promoted to Premier League

Ncube then moved to Caps/Gunners Development with Darlington Dodo, Ikabort Masocha, Stewart Murisa and James Matola. 

Ncube then relocated to South Africa, where he became assistant coach to Backlyfield Chivenga, who taught and imparted a lot of things and guidance to the young coach.

Anyone who thought the sky was the limit may better get this limitless lesson from Ncube, whose Spanish move to FC Malaga City early last year all but carved open a switch to the United States.

Ncube, who probably became the first Zimbabwe soccer coach to grind his expertise in Spain, joins a growing list of the country’s football technical luminaries to coach in the US. Among them are Charles Mhlauri, Methembe Mayor Ndlovu, and Thulani “Biya” Ncube, to name but a few.

His stint at FC Malaga City saw the Spanish side getting promoted to the Division de Honor after winning the lower strata. It remains something Ncube cherishes as the crescendo of his career, which also had a touch from John Toto Ncube at police side Black Mambas.

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