Life begins at 45, not 40

Don Makanyanga
Benza rarely speaks out but after the storm caused by his record breaking appearance on Match Day One, the man opened up to The Sunday Mail last week.
Benza became the oldest player to feature in the PSL when he took to the park against Ngezi and says he is living his dream.
For him life has begun at 45!

HERENTALS owner Innocent Benza insists that his “permanent resident” status in the Premiership new boys’ starting XI is purely based on merit and not the team’s shareholding structure.

Benza made his Premiership debut when Herentals fell 0-2 at Ngezi Platinum Stars last weekend.
The 45–year old Harare businessman owns the football club but is also a player.

He played 78 minutes before being replaced by his 17-year old son Tinotenda.

Chances are the club owner and midfielder will start again when Herentals welcome Highlanders at the National Sports Stadium today.

Benza rarely speaks out, but after the storm caused by his record breaking appearance on Match Day One, the man opened up to The Sunday Mail last week.

Benza became the oldest player to feature in the PSL when he took to the park against Ngezi and says he is living his dream.

For him life has begun at 45!

“It is a dream come true for me to be playing in the top flight,” he said.

“What makes it more interesting is that my team, which started off as social club nine years ago, is now among the country’s top teams.

“It has been a long journey for us. I have invested a lot into this project and it feels good to here, playing against football powerhouses such as Highlanders.”

But why start every game?

“I train like any other player and I believe my selection is based on merit and not the position that I hold in the club.

“At the end of the day we want to win and the coach knows what is best for us,” he said.

Benza’s son Tinotenda does not have to look far for inspiration.

“My dad is my hero, look at what he has achieved both in business and in sport.

“In everything he is full of humility. He is always here to train with us because he appreciates that being the owner of the team is not a visa into the starting line-up,” he said.

The young Benza, who plays as an attacking midfielder, appreciates that being the club owner’s son comes with its own challenges.

“I always have to prove myself and work hard,” said Tinotenda who has already featured for the national Under 17 team.

“My father works hard in training and always encourages me to do the same. He is setting the example for me. I am still young and know that my day will come.”

While Innocent and his son do business on the pitch, another Benza is responsible for making sure that the team is run smoothly.

Innocent’s twin brother Gerald sits on the bench as the team manager.

And Herentals coach Kumbirai Mutiwekuziva has no problems with such a set up.

“Only outsiders find the arrangement awkward,” he said.

“It has worked and continues to work well for us because we always have all the top guys with us and issues are addressed as soon as they crop up.

“As the coach I am responsible for selecting the team. If Mudhara Benza is not in form I will bench him or drop him completely.”

Herentals beat Bosso twice in pre-season friendlies and the visitors, who brushed off Black Rhinos 2-1 in their opening match, are being cautious.

“The most difficult thing is that we know very little about our opponents, which means we will have to base on our strengths,” said Highlanders coach Madinda Ndlovu.

 

34,085 total views, no views today