Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Shipanuka, a boy who traded skill for education: The Tuesday player profile 

Born on 28 August 2003 in Kamupekete village of Chongwe district, Anthony Shipanuka is a newly acquired Red Arrows player signed as a raw talent this season.

His early life was hard like any other village boy living with grandmothers but it taught him the ropes of life and he was good with it.

In his fourth grade, Anthony was sent to Lusaka to reunite with his single mother Sharon Shipunga who had left the village for greener pasture in the Capital.

Kanyama hood welcomed the young Soli boy who probably never even understood anything about football. He was straight enrolled at Mission of Hope School in Kanyama and School was his goal.

Nevertheless, he played some street soccer with friends whenever he knocked off from School and on weekends for recreational purposes.

After passing Grade 9 exams in 2018, his education almost came to a stop because his mother could not sponsor him to grade 10, due to financial constraints, a situation that forced him leave the City to Nyimba, Eastern Province to stay with his Uncle. This move would probably set up the beginning of his football career as he had to spend the first term of the School calendar in the street playing some  football. But he never knew.

It is here where a man only identified as Coach Suzyo noticed how talented Anthony was and straight introduced him to Nyimba United Football Club Coach.

At this point, things seemingly started to unfold and it could maybe said that his football journey now had began.

While training with Nyimba United, little did he know he was being scouted, fast forward  Nyimba Boarding School approached and asked him to join their School with an offer for a  scholarship. He grabbed opportunity as education was his prime objective and the only reason he had to leave Lusaka to Nyimba.

He kept everything to himself and never disclosed the Nyimba School deal to his Uncle.

On the other side, his Uncle had organised School fees and told him he would be starting his grade 10 once Schools opened in the second term.

Actually his Uncle had already paid for his School requirements and uniforms were secured. Just like Anthony, his Uncle never said anything to him about paying School fees for him at Nyimba Day Secondary, the School he would only attend for a week. 

He later moved to Nyimba Boarding in the second week after concluding the sponsorship deal. Anthony had traded his football skill for his education until his Grade 12 completion in 2021.

With that set, he was now able to break the news that he had been offered a scholarship in exchange for his talent in this ‘game of family secrets’.

Just like Sadio Mane, Anthony never had a feel of football footwear, all the time he was training with Nyimba United. He did it bare footed.

Thanks to Coaches who helped him with a pair of boots when joining the School team.

His amazing dribbling ability and unique fast play, earned him a call up to the Eastern Province Select side. He would go on to become the youngest player in the provincial squad.

Now, what could be seen as the road to success in his career, was seen otherwise by the Uncle, the man who would become his connection to his dreams . 

His Uncle had misunderstandings with him and most times, Anthony was made to stay home preventing him from attending training sessions. At some stage his Uncle actually stopped talking to him because he insisted to play football. Luckily, because of his super skill, Nyimba United Coaches would include him on their staring XI during weekends and his football career was thrilling.

After completing his High School, his Uncle, the bad guy changed to the good one when he went out of his way for his break-through in Lusaka securing a golden opportunity at the two times Zambian Champions, Red Arrows Football Club.

One morning early this year his Uncle told Anthony he would be going to Lusaka to join Sayax Football Club but ended up at City of Lusaka where he was signed for a 6 Months performance based contract.

Later at the start of the Season, the Airmen were told of a player to look at, and he was invited to Nkoloma Stadium for trials.

It just took one session for Coach Chisi to say yes and just like that the boy signed a  permanent deal. 

Since joining, Anthony has played four league fixtures after his debut against Trident Football Club where he literally ran riot and tore the visitors at Nkoloma creating and assisting a Jemba goal in that match. 

He has played in three more matches coming as a game changer. He wears Jersey No.14. His objective now is to break into the starting eleven and fully demonstrate what he is made of.

Anthony is a football wizard inspired by Vinicius Junior and Klings Kangwa and actually plays like the two professional players.

This little unknown boy, no undoubt will be the next big thing for Red Arrows and the country. His name is Anthony Sipunuka, an enterprising Winger. He looks forward to pursuing tertiary Education and achieving his professional football dreams.

By Red Arrows Media 

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