At exactly 10:55pm just after master of ceremonies, Charles Mabika had announced that the Soccer Stars of the Year event was over, the first person that I talked to was Adam “Adamski” Ndlovu, who I had tipped to win the Coach of the Year award.
Opinion by Brian Nkiwane
Ndlovu had a good season with his underrated side Chicken Inn, that managed to withstand the premiership heat and finished third on the log table in their second year in the top-flight league. That was a remarkable performance.
Their fininsh earned them a berth in the CAF Confederation Cup but unfortunately, they pulled out due to financial constraints. Ndlovu gave me a warm hug before he escorted me to where I was parked. The last words that he said to me, were; “Ungaginjimi kulezimsuku izulu liana, hamba kuhle njalo sekusebusuku” (Don’t drive fast, it’s raining these days. Moreover, it’s late now.)
I now regret that I did not return the those wise words to him. Maybe it could have turned out differently.
We bade each other farewell, but what I did not know is that it was the last time I was to see him. May his soul rest in eternal peace. We will remember him for those blistering goals he scored both for Highlanders and Zimbabwe.
Ndlovu contributed immensely to Zimbabwean football and abroad. He even had a month-long trial stint with the world’s glamorous club Manchester United, you know where I am talking about, Theatre of Dreams. Ndlovu scored 34 goals in Warriors colours, making him the second highest goal scorer after his younger brother Peter Ndlovu, who scored four more and is the country’s most capped player. The tragedy hit the country at a time when most people were now tipping the Highlanders legend to be the one who had the keys to the success of the Warriors in future. This then reminds us how players should behave themselves, especially during this time of the year when the football season has ended.
I have no problems with watching social soccer matches during this time of the year being played by retired players, coaches and other interested individuals. But I will always raise a red flag when I start seeing names that play in our Zifa affiliated ranks taking part in these matches.
Road carnages are not new to our football at all after the fraternity lost one of its promising defender, Watson Muhoni in a similar incident in the 1990s. Muhoni, a tough tackling defender, who had joined DeMbare from Division One and other players were involved in a road accident when they were going for a social match.
In March 2004, CAPS United players, Blessing Makunike, Shingi Arlon and Gary Mashoko, died after their car was involved in an accident at Manyame Bridge while they were coming from a league match. The trio had disembarked from their official team bus and used a private car for the trip back to Harare. In 2004, Northern Region Division One outfit Golden Kopje, had lost a number of players in a road accident. In March this year, Tendayi Maketo, one of the Division One players involved in a head-on collision on their way to a social soccer match, died at Kadoma General Hopsital. A number of players from Division One and Two side sides — David Whitehead, Kadoma United and Cossy Rules — who were part of the travelling party — Simbarashe Simoko, Edward Mandipe, Sheraz Noor, Freddy Katumba, Knowledge Bandera, Onias Nyangombe, Arkim Masango and Farai “Koso” Nyangombe — were lucky to survive with severe injuries.
Now that the season has come to an end, players should desist from taking part in these social matches, especially those that would require them to travel to far places.
Let’s take time off the pitch and have a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year holidays with our families. We meet again next year.
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