Sky’s the limit after Madanha breaks new ground

Rapid Adelaide United youngster, Panashe Madanha, is hungry for more after becoming the first Zimbabwe-born player to feature in the Isuzu UTE A-League.
2022/23 tickets on sale.

Rapid Adelaide United youngster, Panashe Madanha, is hungry for more after becoming the first Zimbabwe-born player to feature in the Isuzu UTE A-League.

The 18-year-old himself admits that he was ‘surprised’ to learn of the fact after his debut game, but he always had the makings of a professional athlete.

Madanha moved to Adelaide when he was just four after his dad secured a favourable job opportunity, and his mum subsequently found work as a nurse.

It was often a case of football in the winter, cricket in the Australian summer for Madanha in the first few years, whose solid frame and pace has always caused trouble for opposing defenders and batsmen/bowlers alike.

His father, who also has a twin brother, were big influences on Madanha with their passion for football, prior to him truly finding his love for playing the game when he was seven. And it was a seemingly natural progression through the SA NTC, ‘Skillaroos’, and United Youth pathways that culminated in his first league appearance last Tuesday night.

While true that Madanha was introduced to the United faithful after 89 minutes against Newcastle Jets, he had more time than most ‘late game’ debutants with seven more added to the clock. Upon his first touch, which stuck to him like glue, Madanha was positive from the outset and was quickly a handful for his opposing fullback, Dane Ingham.

Madanha said of the experience: “It was really cool and an absolute honour to come through the system here in Adelaide and make my debut in front of lots of friends and family.

“You go to the games as a kid and dream of one day playing at the top level for your hometown team.

“For that to come true just makes me want to keep working and training hard and learning off the other boys in a really supportive team.”

He had previously debuted off the bench for United in the Australia Cup game against the same opposition in July, and Head Coach, Carl Veart, must have recalled an opening.

It is an early sign of things to come for the pacy winger, who grew up in Adelaide as an active boy who was always participating in athletics, as well as all other sports generally.

It’s true also that Zimbabwe has endured one of its most fractured periods in its football history, as it was unable to participate in FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ qualification due to issues including mismanagement and corruption.

Madanha has therefore been able to bring much joy to his extended family that remained in his hometown of Harare by sending videos back as there is no broadcast of the A-League.

“The crew are all very supportive of me back home in Zimbabwe and they congratulated me and sent me some nice messages following my debut,” Madanha said.

“My grandma, my cousins, and aunties and uncles, they all called me and it’s an awesome feeling.”

For all of his attacking proficiencies, Madanha has worked hard in recent times to improve his game defensively and adapt as more of a wingback depending on the scenario. Think Canada and FC Bayern Munich’s Alphonso Davies, a player he looks toward despite playing on the opposite side, and the teenager’s comparative lightning-fast speed is well-known amongst South Australian ranks.

“I think my defending is something that’s definitely improved since I’ve gone pro because, originally, I was mostly a winger,” Madanha added.

“I’ve been working hard to elevate my game with Carl and with Airton (Andrioli) and all the coaches and learn to play in that wingback position because it is useful in so many ways.”

Madanha also becomes the fifth local player to make their A-League Men’s debut this season following Ethan Alagich, Musa Toure, Luka Jovanovic, and Joshua Mori.

It strengthens Veart’s philosophy and connections he has made through the top youth pathways here in SA.

Madanha also has a level head on his shoulders, thanks largely to his parents who have always encouraged their son to consider his options off the field knowing full-well the unpredictability of proceedings on it. And, as a result, pathways into Human Movement and Physiotherapy are possible, yet Madanha has taken a gap year to fully focus on the beginning of what is shaping to be a promising career ahead.

Only at Coopers – Adelaide United memberships on-sale now.