The Sunday Mail
HE hails from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)’s restive province of Kasai, where over a million people were displaced following armed clashes in 2017, and is always thinking about his family back home, especially during these trying times wrought by coronavirus.
Felly Mulumba, the towering defender who joined Zimbabwe football champions FC Platinum from Kenyan Premier League side Bandari in February, is yet to kick a ball as the 2020 Castle Lager Premier Soccer League has been postponed due to Covid-19.
Mulumba, who has a two-year contract with FC Platinum, is observing lockdown regulations in Zvishavane, hoping that soon he will be allowed to travel back home and be with his family “just for a few days”.
The defender is one of the six foreign players plying their trade in Zimbabwe’s elite league.
He joined FC Platinum alongside fellow countryman Ellie Ilunga to become the third Congolese player at Pure Platinum Play, who are also home to winger Gyve Nsiala.
Tanzanian striker Elias Maguri, who also joined the Zvishavane side from Zambian top-flight outfit Nakambala Leopards at the beginning of the season, is part of the foreign quartet at FC Platinum.
The Dynamos duo of Ghanaian defender Sylvester Appiah and Cameroonian striker Albert Eonde complete the cast of the foreign legion currently registered for the domestic Premiership.
“I miss home so much. I hope when everything comes back to normal I will be allowed to go back home just for a few days,” Mulumba said.
The former Sofapaka defender was in Kasai almost a year ago, but is always in touch with his family over the phone.
“I normally go home at the end of every season, depending on the situation. The last time I was back in Kasai was last year, but I hear everyone is fine.
“This is a difficult time for everyone. This has never happened before — a footballer spending five months at home without playing the game.
“So many families rely on this game for survival and I know it is difficult for them now,” says Mulumba.
FC Platinum is the fifth club for the defender, whose career has seen him turn out for AS Saint Luc of DRC, as well as Kenya Premier League sides Posta Rangers, Sofapaka and Bandari.
“I am just here in Zvishavane . . . we are always at home doing nothing. It is a difficult time for us,” a worried Mulumba said.
“We normally run six kilometres on Thursday, Friday and Sunday to stay in shape. I hope, by the grace of God, we will be back to normal again. I miss this game, this is my job, but we know everything will be back to normal. We are lucky to have employers like FC Platinum who are taking very good care of us.
“Zvishavane already feels like home to me. Some clubs are struggling to pay their players, but our sponsors and management are doing well to keep us happy,” said Mulumba.
While Mulumba is homesick, Dynamos defender Appiah is not thinking about his family back in Bereku, Ghana, at least for now.
“It has to be work first, and home later,” Appiah said.
The gifted centre-back joined DeMbare from ZPC Kariba at the beginning of the year.
“I miss playing football. It is sad that the coronavirus came at a time I had made a big move to giants Dynamos.
“I really wanted to prove my worth,” said Appiah. He is also staying at home and following the team’s training programmes.