Can Antonio live to his Bill-ing?

24 Oct, 2021 - 00:10 0 Views
Can Antonio live to his Bill-ing?

The Sunday Mail

Langton Nyakwenda
Sports Reporter

TO many, he is that Dynamos teenage winger who has announced his arrival in the Premiership with a stunning bang, yet at home in Dzivarasekwa, 18-year-old Bill Antonio is already a “father” and a breadwinner.

The Prince Edward Upper Sixth student is arguably the hottest teenage footballer in the local Premiership at the moment, thanks to his dazzling performances for DeMbare, who are unbeaten in the 2021 Chibuku Super Cup tournament.

Antonio’s profile has continued to soar since May 29 when he made his debut in the 4-0 drubbing of Yadah Stars in a Chibuku Super Cup Group One match at the National Sports Stadium.

He is now famous in the streets of Harare, and at school, he is the most popular and high-profile student to an extent that his classmates reportedly offer to help him catch up when he misses lessons because of club commitments.

At home, Antonio pays school fees and transport fares for his sisters and is planning to start paying instalments for a family stand in Kuwadzana.

Antonio — whose salary is now more than the average pay in the formal sector, courtesy of a financial injection into Dynamos by local fuel giants Sakunda Holdings — has also seen a welcome change of fortune in his life.

“I have been buying grocery stuff for the family, I also pay transport for my sisters and I am now paying their school fees.

“I am also planning to start paying the instalments for the family stand in Kuwadzana. Thanks to football, I bought blankets for my parents with my first pay, but I guess I will now need to do more.

“I want to buy my parents new furniture and many more things as time goes,” he told The Sunday Mail Sport.

Apart from creating goals for his teammates, he also got onto the scoresheet when DeMbare beat ZPC Kariba 2-0 on October 2 to seal their place in the Chibuku Super Cup quarter-finals.

The Glamour Boys will now face Group Three runners-up Black Rhinos in the last eight.

They finish their group games with a date against Harare City at Baobab Stadium in Mhondoro-Ngezi at 11am today.

Amid this tough schedule, he has had to juggle between school and football, as he is also preparing for his Advanced Level exams.

He is doing a combination of Literature in English, History and Family and Religious Studies.

The Zimbabwe youth international is a prefect at school and dreams of attaining a degree in social work in the next five years.

His exploits at DeMbare have naturally made him popular at school.

Typically, after grabbing newspaper headlines over the weekend, Antonio returns to school on a Monday in a tricky transition he has learned to live with.

“The feeling is just so good, but nevertheless these are the things which I believe are going to be making up my days for the next few years.

“I want to be a footballer who is educated, so even if I am to go to university, the same thing is going to happen; so, yes, the feeling is good . . .

“Fellow students feel honoured that one of their own, let me say school leaders, is leading for sure.

“To me, it’s the same because I have always delivered even at school football.

“The whole school knew I would deliver, so, yes, the whole school is happy and everyone is willing to help with my school work when I miss some lessons.”

 

Early days

Growing up in Dzivarasekwa, Antonio was already playing first-team football at Gillingham Primary when he was still in Grade Five.

He joined Dzivarasekwa Football Academy the following year, before Prince Edward came calling for his services when he finished Grade Seven.

He captained the Under-14 side before graduating into the senior team three years later, where he was also named skipper.

“I got my first national team appearance with the Under-20 in December 2020.

“After my outstanding performances at that tournament, I was signed by the biggest club in Zimbabwe, Dynamos.”

How has he been handling the fame of playing for the country’s biggest club?

“It all starts in the mind. It’s about how you handle the fame.

“Being humble is what I am taught at home, school and even at Dynamos.

“My coaches and my teammates, especially Juan Mutudza, Godknows (Murwira) and Frank (Makarati), they always say, ‘Bill, just stay humble and God will do the rest.’

“Indeed, the fame is there but I have been coping with it so well. That’s why you see we have been delivering as a team.”

A multi-talented teenager, who is also the school athletics team captain, Antonio dreams of playing for the Warriors.

“I also want to play in the best leagues in Europe.

“While on the other hand, I wish to acquire a social work degree and a sports management diploma or a degree in sports science.”

Norman Taruvinga, the Prince Edward school coach who discovered Antonio while he was at Dzivarasekwa, said “he has become a more responsible young boy”.

“He hasn’t changed at all. He is still the same old jovial, respectful and humble Bill. By the way, being a prefect at Prince Edward means a lot to these young gentlemen,” said Taruvinga, who is also an English teacher at the school.

“If anything, Bill has become more responsible and respectful. For that, his teammates at school like him. In addition, he is fortunate that I teach one of his A’ Level subjects and I have assisted him with notes.

“I wouldn’t say he is very bright, but he is very focused and determined. He is someone from whom I expect nothing less than 10 points.”

Prince Edward sports director Tawanda Jimu is proud of Antonio and feels the boy’s exploits have put the school in the limelight.

“It’s a great joy that all our efforts are not in vain and it gives us the zeal to continue with the good work’’.

Prince Edward have a history of producing a number of football stars who include Tatenda Mkuruva and Tino Kadewere.

The late Stephen Shamuyarira, Stewart Murisa, Alois Bunjira and Dynamos coach Tonderai Ndiraya are among a host of former Prince Edward students who played top-flight football.

Ndiraya speaks highly of Antonio.

“The kid has great potential which needs careful nurturing. I hope he will remain humble so that he can reach his full potential,” he said.

He is likely to hand Antonio another start when Dynamos face Harare City.

 

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