By Brian Nkiwane
EVERY sportsperson has his own secret that makes him/her a cut above the rest in any competition. But for Mochani Nyoni, listening has been his greatest weapon of all time.
Likewise, disability does not mean inability for 30-year old Nyoni, who is visually impaired but has taken the football coaching fraternity by storm.
After playing football at school in the visually impaired category in Zimuto, Nyoni developed love for the sport such that he decided to quit his profession as a switchboard controller and took up a football coaching career.
Nyoni, who has become the talk of Kadoma and other surrounding areas for his soccer coaching tricks has left many who have seen him in charge of his side Western Pirates Juniors shell-shocked.
The project, which he started in 1998, has for the past years paid dividends for him as he has many names that went through his hands.
Speaking to Standardsport in Kadoma on Friday, Nyoni revealed the little secret that has seen him succeed against clubs that have coaches who are not visually handicapped.
“For your own information I have an edge over all these coaches. One thing that has made me a good coach is listening. The first thing that I have done with my players is that every player can play any position at any given time. What I usually do is that I come up with my first 11 players and as the match goes on I listen to what the opposition coach will be telling his players. Things like height, body structure which then helps me make positional changes not substitution. I am one coach who hardly substitutes players. I do this to neutralise their attacks with the assistance of my team captain of course,” Nyoni said.
The soft spoken coach left everyone in stitches when he spoke about how he dealt with cheats at training sessions.
“During my first days I used to have problems with players who took advantage of my status. As time went on experience became my best weapon. I can tell a player that he is not doing a practice session by just listening to his voice. If a player is told to run definitely you don’t expect that person to talk to you fluently, if he does so, it means he has not done his part. Again if you ask them to squat, if you talk to players, I can tell from his voice whether he is squatting or not,” added Nyoni.
A holder of the Diploma in Typing and Switchboard operation, Nyoni says he has done a lot for Zimbabwean football as most of the players that are playing in the premiership and others abroad came through his hands and his blind eyes.
Malajila is my product
Nyoni spoke about players taking instructions from him despite his disability.
“It’s not about my sight but listening to what I tell you as a coach. I can tell you that I was the first person to teach Cuthbert Malajila to kick, stop and control the ball but today he in South Africa. I did not end there as other players like Themba Ndlovu who played for Motor Action and only moved to Buffaloes this year came through my hands.”
Nyoni went on to mention other names of players that passed through his hands, most of them plying their trades in the Eastern and Northern Regions worlds of Division One.
Nyoni’s road to fame
Due to his visual disability, Nyoni moved to the City of Kings where he went to Jairos Jiri Primary School for the Disabled school before proceeding to Zimuto Mission in Masvingo for his secondary education.
Afterwards, he enrolled at Jairos Jiri Vocational Training Centre where he graduated with a Diploma in Typing and Switchboard Operation.
Unemployment forced him into the world of football where he took up coaching as a career.
The economic meltdown that the country went through saw Nyoni abandoning his football team in 2007, only to resume in 2010.
“When other coaches heard that I am back, they all cried foul because they knew how I am,” he added.
Nyoni has been a regular student at junior coaching clinics that are conducted by Nelson Matongorere, but he hopes to improve on his badges.
“I am looking forward to improving my coaching qualifications. But as soon as I get more badges I will quit coaching and join the world of administration because dealing with elderly people is a bit tricky. I think I have some job to do at Number 53 Livingstone (Zifa House) in Harare.”
The coach who intends to get married soon boasts of youngsters who have been regular faces in junior national teams.
“I have a number of boys that have been playing in the national Under- 17.”
On numerous occasions, his Under-16 team that has sent shock waves in the province has been participating in national events where they play main curtain raisers to national team matches at home.