The Sunday Mail
IT might sound strange, but it’s real and it happens in football.
The game is once again using its power to connect and unite people.
AFC Bournemouth’s promotion into the English Premier League has sparked as much celebration across England as it has in Zimbabwe’s Mashonaland East Province, especially in Murehwa and specifically in Mukarakate Village.
They have every reason to celebrate as one of their kinsmen, Jordan Zemura, is a part of the fairy-tale of Bournemouth’s promotion into the EPL.
The 22-year-old attacking left-back was key to Bournemouth’s return to the Premiership, managing 33 appearances and weighing in with three goals.
He also won the free-kick that resulted in Bournemouth’s solitary strike against Nottingham midweek, which ultimately sealed the Cherries’ automatic promotion into the world’s most-watched league.
Zemura, who also featured for Zimbabwe at the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon, was born in England but his parents were born and bred in Zimbabwe.
His dad, Sam, comes from Mukarakate Village in Murehwa.
It has been a whirlwind week for Zemura as he has been receiving congratulatory messages from all corners of the world.
Aston Villa and Zimbabwe international Marvelous Nakamba was one of the first people to call him soon after his team’s promotion.
The young player could become the fifth Zimbabwean to play in the EPL if he is retained by Bournemouth, which is highly likely given his performances.
Legendary former Liverpool goalkeeper Bruce Grobbelaar, Peter Ndlovu (Coventry City), Nakamba and Benjani Mwaruwari, who starred for Portsmouth, Blackburn and Manchester City, are the only Zimbabweans to have featured in the English top-flight.
Mwaruwari has always been Zemura’s idol since the Bournemouth defender’s childhood.
The 22-year-old star was naturally ecstatic when he spoke to The Sunday Mail Sport.
“It has been a bit of a whirlwind week,” said Zemura.
“It’s hard to explain (the win against Nottingham) as it was a crazy night. The game, the intensity of it was amazing. I couldn’t describe it; you just had to be there really!”
The 2021/2022 English Championship has been his breakthrough season.
“I can only thank God for blessing me and protecting me.
“I wouldn’t be where I am without my family. “Well, first season playing and earning promotion to the Premier League, I think that in itself says it all,’’ he said.
Although he has never been to Murehwa, where his family hails from, Zemura is not forgetting his kinsmen in his hour of glory.
His relatives once organised a cultural reception for the player when he came back home for one of Zimbabwe’s matches last year.
They had planned to welcome him in their traditional way at Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport but Covid-19 restrictions scuppered the ceremony.
“I have received many phone calls from Zimbabwe; I can’t thank enough the support I get from Zimbabwe, especially from Murehwa.
“It’s great to hear from all my family members and friends there. I just want to thank every single one of them for the love they have showed me!”
“Hopefully, in the near future, I will be able to sort out a few charity events and be able to open up schools there.
“I am a football player but I want every child to succeed in whatever their chosen dream is.
“I can’t wait for this to happen for them all.”
The Warriors star is also happy to join the elite club of Zimbabweans that were part of the EPL. “This company is just breathtaking to be a part of!
“I can’t wait and I hope to be among those names. It’s a great achievement for myself and my family.
“I know Marv (Nakamba); well, he is an older brother to me, but he was the first to congratulate me, so I can’t wait to meet him and play against him, God willing,” he added.
“Watching Benjani play in the Premier League when I was a child was everything to me because I could see someone on the television who is from the same country as me playing at the highest stage, and it used to make me feel so proud.
“I haven’t had the chance to meet him, but I would love to sit down with him and ask him 1000 questions about it all.
“The likes of Bruce and Peter, wow, what can I say? These names are what makes every young Zimbabwean child dream of playing in the Premier League.
“My dad was a big fan of both, so I am sure he is just as happy as I am.”
Indeed, Zemura’s father is so proud of his son.
“It feels great that all his hard work is finally paying off.
“The boy deserves it and he has worked hard all season. I am a proud father and the family is also proud. We are all just happy,” said Sam Zemura.
The player could also have given his mother, Sharon, a perfect Mother’s Day present with his achievement.
She is as elated as she is proud.
“As a mother or parent, this is an acknowledgment of a job well done and justification for the agony and the hard work that went into it.
“I feel proud, happy, overwhelmed and delighted.
“This has given me validation and confidence in my son and particularly myself to believe that dreams actually come true, as this has always been JZ’s dream ever since.
“I am sure there is more to come as long as he keeps his head down.
“I also want to thank all family and friends who have supported us throughout his journey… much appreciated,’’ Sharon Zemura said.