The Sunday Mail
Langton Nyakwenda and Don Makanyanga
NORMAN MAPEZA and Rodwell Chinyengetere have had their fights but have kept their eyes on the ball. They made a pact in 2015 and that agreement has stood the test of time.
On Friday night, both walked up to the podium as historic champions with FC Platinum dominating proceedings at the Soccer Stars banquet held at a Harare hotel.
“King Amla” is the new king of the Castle Lager Premier Soccer League and “Nomara” is the brand new Coach of the Year.
Chinyengetere was crowned 2017 Soccer Star of the Year to cap an extraordinary comeback from a career threatening injury suffered back in 2012.
The greatest Warrior of them all, Peter Ndlovu, graced the top notch ceremony.
There was a time when Chinyengetere’s wife Rachel thought it was over, after the former Hwange star suffered a double fracture on the right shin, but one man believed in her husband – that was Norman Mapeza.
“There was a time people thought Rodwell was finished, that was back in 2015, when he still had a metal pin on his shin.
“People wondered what I had seen in a player who everyone else deemed finished. But sometimes it’s all about belief.
“I believed in him and I spoke to him about what I wanted from him. I urged him to keep training hard and promised him everything would be okay.
“Here we are today, celebrating his achievement,” an ecstatic Mapeza said.
Chinyengetere’s wife could not believe that a man everyone had written off after the fateful injury had been crowned the best player on the land.
“I wasn’t expecting this, ndaingoti Mwari maita henyu (I thank God) after he was named Soccer Star finalist and I never thought we would see this big award,” she said.
“Ndaingoti zvapera (l thought he had come to the end of the road), I didn’t believe he would reach this level after that injury. God has taken us this far,” she added.
“I would cry by the bedside as Rodwell endured the pain but doctors would keep assuring me everything would be alright. They (doctors) would give me examples of other players who recovered from nastier injuries and that boosted my belief.”
FC Platinum became the first club from outside Harare and Bulawayo to win the league title.
The 29-year-old Chinyengetere also became the first player from the Zvishavane club to win the Soccer Star of the Year award.
“I played with zeal. Moving to FC Platinum was a right decision for me because it was a team with ambitions and this has helped to achieve some of my set targets.
“This is a big achievement and I thank my teammates and coach Mapeza for believing in me,” said Chinyengetere.
The Kadoma-bred linkman scored four goals in the last seven matches of the 2017 race as FC Platinum romped to victory in a two-horse race that also featured old dog Dynamos.
Chinyengetere ended the season as Pure Platinum Play’s top scorer with nine goals and Mapeza appreciates this industriousness.
“You see, one thing that is for sure is that Rodwell is a hard worker. This is not to say that his other teammates do not work hard but he (Chinyengetere) pushes.
“Yes, we have our own fights here and there but at the end of the day it is for the good of the club.
“I always preach discipline and Chinyengetere is one of those guys who are disciplined,” said Mapeza.
Chinyengetere hails from the Mashonaland West town of Kadoma, a conveyor belt of soccer talent that has given Zimbabwe players such as Raphael Phiri, Kaitano “Ngwenya” Tembo, Cuthbert Malajila and the late Watson Muhoni.
Contrary to the bleak festive season he had in 2012 after suffering a horrific injury 94 days before Christmas, Chinyengetere will surely have a glamorous holiday this time around as he pocketed the winner’s cheque of $5 000 and an additional $1 000 that he was entitled to for being chosen among the XI finalists.
His teammate Kelvin Moyo was the first runner up after putting on a solid shift at the heart of the FC Platinum defence while Dynamos’ Ocean Mushure came third.