VaShagare: Our football doesn’t cut the grade!

So there we were at Zanamwe Shopping Centre yesterday afternoon in a small but rich football community called C.A, a populous high density setup located in St Mary’s, Chitungwiza, which has given birth to some of Zimbabwe’s soccer greats.

Names that quickly come to mind when the place is spoken about include Alois and Allan Godzi, Gift Mudangwe, Raphael Kawondera, Darlington Mukwava, Hillard Kassim, Never Gombera and Charles Salary (may their sporting souls rest in eternal peace).

Stewart Murisa, Alois Bunjira, “Gabhera” and the Makankulas (Leo and Cleopas) were also products of the weekend soccer sessions we christened “Chemonaz” in Chemhanza Stadium.

Then there were, of-course, those that were extremely talented, but never made it to the top due to “circumstances beyond their control”. “Shava”, “Svosvo” and yours truly fall into this category.

Alas, there is no sustenance of that glory to talk about anymore, what with a Local Authority that sees “sense” in converting a soccer stadium into residential stands and never sparing an inch of land for recreation.

Talk about city planning and talent destruction!

Anyway, the topic under discussion yesterday was the transfer window and what the Zimbabwe soccer scene may be holding in store for us as we brace for a new season in March or thereabouts.

Yours truly was the first to bring to the fore his concern: “But guys, what is it with these youngsters of today who have grown accustomed to changing soccer teams like they do their hairstyles, have they ever heard about a rolling stone not gathering any moss?

“Taura hako Shagas,” that was Bla Wally, “One season this player is with a league-winning team, the next they are opting for another . . . is there loyalty or passion to talk about here or they’re holding the game to ransom just because of greed?”

“And then the club authorities, do you think we have the right people leading our soccer?”

“Hold it right there people, hold it!” chipped in ‘Robbie Gee,’ another former great from the hood — in fact one of the few of his age group who still has the patience to follow the local league like a cult when most of his age-mates have since shifted their attention to foreign leagues abroad owing to frustration of what has been obtaining on the domestic soccer front.

“First there is no loyalty to talk about here anymore? Remember those young men are in this sport for a livelihood. Havadye zita rekuti DeMbare kana Kepekepe, but they have to make hay while the sun still shines. So if the clubs cannot ensure their welfare, what’s there to wait for?”

Chaks took it up: “Robbie Gee, I think it is important to look at the root of the problem first, which I think are the executives leading our teams. Are they ensuring a conducive environment for the youngsters to want to stay? Do they have the expertise to run football professionally and retain the talent within the club system . . .”

“Exactly!” concurred Chola, “If you look at yesteryear, we had players staying at their clubs mainly because some, if not most, of the clubs were run by companies and establishments which went on to employ those people — Black Rhinos, Caps Utd, Ziscosteel and Bata Power for instance.

“What it meant was that if nothing was forthcoming on the side of winning bonus, the monthly salary would still reflect in the bank account. Saka ukatarisa mazuvano, chikwata chikarohwa, woziva kuti tenzi vararira mutakura.”

“To add on,” weighed in Zhula, “such institutions employed professionals who would then assist with the running of the teams as administrators. So if you look at the player exodus today you will see it is similar clubs like FC Platinum, Harare City, How Mine that are managing to lure players because of the professional ways they’re run.”

As the discussion progressed, we were in total agreement that for our local soccer to meet the grade, we don’t just need to focus on the calibre of players we have on the pitch alone, but the club systems governing our football.

Ladies and gentlemen of the football jury, do we have the right administrators at both club and national levels with the right qualifications and experience required to take our soccer to the levels we desire?

“Problem iripo apa varume ndeyekuti hatisati taziva kuti bhora ibhizinesi,” lamented an old man, uninvited, seated an arm’s reach distance from us. Anyway, hanzi iyo zifa yacho iri kuenda riiniko?

We were still awestruck by the uninvited intrusion when someone shouted from the entrance to the Orange Night Club to advise there was a previously-played AFCON match about to show on ZBC-TV.

We trooped in.

VaShagare is the founder of DeMbare DotComs and can be contacted on that Facebook page as well as the email [email protected]

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