The Sunday Mail
FORMER Highlanders and Dynamos star defender Lenny Gwata would have turned 43 on December 13, had he not succumbed to a fever on April 12, 2010.
Gwata’s wife, Beater Mangethe, the popular musician who hailed from the high-density suburb of Makokoba, unfortunately breathed her last exactly two months later, on June 12, 2010.
The celebrity couple sired a child, Wesley, who had just turned 15 when misfortune befell the family.
Wesley Gwata is now 24 and has grown into a Premier Soccer League player, who just like his late father, is also a defender.
He also has a soft spot for both Bosso and DeMbare, although he turns out for recently promoted Bulawayo City.
Bulawayo City, who are coached by Try Ncube, are back in the Premiership after pipping Talen Vision for the Southern Region ticket last weekend.
Wesley could soon fulfil his late father’s wish.
“I started playing with Amazulu when I was only nine. My father would always teach me how to kick a ball from a very young age.
“Watching him play inspired me to be like him, to do more than him. So that’s how I made soccer my career,” Wesley told The Sunday Mail Sport last week.
One of the most talented players to come out of Bulawayo, Lenny Gwata, made his debut for Highlanders in 1993 at the age of 17.
He was part of the Bosso squad that won the inaugural Premier Soccer League title that same year as well as the BP League Cup the following season.
After three seasons at Highlanders, Gwata crossed over to the now defunct Amazulu where he featured prominently before moving to Dynamos.
There has always been an exchange of players between Dynamos and Highlanders, with Gwata being one of the high-profile players who crossed the divide in the late 1990s.
Other notable players who moved from Bosso to DeMbare during that period included Makwinji Soma-Phiri and Lovemore “MaGents” Ncube.
Gwata was part of the famous DeMbare side that reached the CAF Champions League final in 1998.
Wesley was only three at that time, but he still values that achievement because his father always spoke about it.
“My father loved Highlanders and Dynamos, he would talk about his achievements at the two giants. Interestingly, right before I joined Bulawayo City in July this year, I went for trials at DeMbare, but unfortunately I didn’t make it.
“I am cool at Bulawayo City, we have just been promoted. Due to my father’s influence, I wish to feature for either Bosso or DeMbare one day.
“There is no doubt these are the two giants of local football and I am glad to be a son of a man who featured for both,” said Wesley.
He played for Amazulu as a junior before moving to Bantu Rovers and then Highlanders’ Division Two side.
“I also played for a team called Zim Leopards before joining Bulawayo City,” he said.
As Wesley braces for a maiden Premiership dance, 26 years after his father made his own bow, the striker-cum-defender cannot stop thinking about 2010.
“That was a dark year,” he said.
“I was only 15 when both my parents passed away. It was just two months apart and I was devastated.
“I stayed with my uncle Naison Ndlovu in Mzilikazi for about two years before my paternal grandmother took me in.
“I am still staying with my granny Laizah Sithole and I am grateful for her love.
“At least I have fulfilled my father’s wish now that Bulawayo City are in the PSL.”
Maybe, Lenny and Beater are now smiling as they rest at Lady Stanley Cemetery in Bulawayo.
Football fans will always recall Lenny’s acrobatics while music followers will never forget the smash hit “I Come from Makokoba”, which propelled Beater to national prominence.