From abattoir to Warriors: Farm boy’s unlikely path

23 Jun, 2024 - 00:06 0 Views
From abattoir to Warriors: Farm boy’s unlikely path Tymon Machope

The Sunday Mail

Langton Nyakwenda

FOR 90 minutes on June 7, there was a strong connection between a farm located in a remote part of Rusape in Manicaland province and the bustling Johannesburg city of South Africa.

Farm workers at Midway Farm, located 12 kilometres from Rusape town, were curious about events happening at Orlando Stadium, where Zimbabwe were playing Lesotho in a 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifier.

It was a Friday afternoon and a special day for the workers at this farm.

So special was this day that employees were given an afternoon off from work to allow them to watch the World Cup qualifier on television.

Tymon Machope was the connection between this Rusape farm and Johannesburg, separated by over 1 200km. The Simba Bhora striker, who came on as a late substitute and almost rescued Zimbabwe from that embarrassing 0-2 loss, is a local hero at Midway Farm.

Some two years ago, Machope worked at this farm as a slaughterer. Apart from focusing on green produce, Midway Farm is also home to a thriving abattoir.

Before that, he had worked at a nearby farm called Morrison, where he was a clerk.

You can call Machope a farm boy, but one who has defied all the odds.

In just two years, the 31-year-old striker has risen from being a farm boy to one of the deadliest goal poachers in the country.

He was part of Zimbabwe’s national team in South Africa for the 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifiers.

After playing a cameo role against Lesotho, during which he almost scored on his debut, the striker was an unused substitute when the Warriors squared up against South Africa at Free State Stadium on June 11. Suddenly, he has become an inspiration to many aspiring footballers in remote areas.

“Tymon is evidence that there’s talent in these farming areas which largely goes untapped,” says Tatenda Mupotaringa, a 33-year-old midfielder who played with the Warriors striker at the Eastern Region Soccer League side Midway.

They were together from the days when Midway played in Division Two.

“Tymon called us before the game against Lesotho. He told us he was not going to start, but he was just happy to be in South Africa for the World Cup qualifiers,” said Mupotaringa, when The Sunday Mail Sport caught up with him at Midway Farm.

He worked in the same abattoir with him.

After scoring over 100 goals for Midway in two seasons, Machope attracted the interest of Simba Bhora coach Tonderai Ndiraya, who immediately sent a scout to Rusape.

The scout was impressed with what he saw and Machope moved to Simba Bhora in July last year.

He scored seven goals in 12 appearances for Simba Bhora and helped them escape relegation.

Speaking to this publication at the end of last season, Ndiraya said: “This boy is national team material. The minute I saw this boy, I saw something special.”

Credit also goes to Machope’s coach at Morrison Farm, which was his springboard.

“He always showed this hunger,” the coach, Tawanda Mangwende, told The Sunday Mail Sport.

“Machope is talented, yet he is very humble. You could tell he was bound to go places. He just lacked the exposure.”

The Sunday Mail Sport crew watched the match between Zimbabwe and Lesotho with some of his former teammates and friends in Rusape on June 7.

With the scores at 2-0 in favour of the Crocodiles, they were all clamouring for the introduction of Machope.

“If given a chance to play, Machope will score,” screamed Daniel Hakurekwi, an accountant at Midway Farm.

When the striker was sent on, he hit the woodwork and could have at least won a penalty for Zimbabwe.

Tichaona Chingwena is 35 years old, but still plays for Midway as a goalie, and Machope’s late-blooming act is an inspiration to him.

“You know, goalkeepers can play professional football even up to the age of 40, so I feel I still have time,” he said. “Machope has inspired me. “We worked together in this abattoir and also played football together at this farm.

“But now, he is with the national team and it is more like a dream. We are so proud of him. He has promised to buy us some football boots. The boy hasn’t forgotten where he came from.”

Machope’s rise has surprised many, including the player himself.

“The feeling I have is extraordinary,” Machope told The Sunday Mail Sport from South Africa.

“Just being part of the team for the World Cup qualifiers has in itself been surreal.

“When the coach told me to get ready to come against Lesotho, I was like, me? I then looked up to the heavens and thanked them. I played for a few minutes, but that meant a lot to me. I realised football is the same.

“Hard work and God’s grace brought me all the way from the farms to this stage.

“Of course, I was disappointed we lost the match, but being part of the team made me feel great. I never imagined that one day I would represent my country at this level.”

Machope said his rise has not just been meteoric, but also magical.

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