PINNING down former Dynamos defender Henry “Beefy” Chari for an interview is never an easy task.
REPORT BY ALBERT MARUFU
If it is not his scratched Motorola C118V that is on voice mail, Chari will just be busy running other errands.
His nickname “Beefy” now sounds ironic as he now possesses a slender frame. Instead, the ideal nickname for him this time around should be “Slender”.
“Hupenyu huri kuvava muni-n’ina. Mabasa edu ndeekutenga nekutengesa saka tikanzwa kwaita chinhu totomhanya. (Life is very hard my brother. We rely on buying and selling goods so if we hear where the goods are we rush there). That is why I am always busy,” explained Chari with a smile revealing his tobacco smoke- stained teeth.
With his red eyes clearly betraying the frustration of being the darling of Rufaro’s Vietnam Stand during his heyday with nothing to show for it, Chari is quick to fire a salvo.
“I am a Dynamos son, but the club recognises foreigners more than its own sons. People like Nyika Chifamba [Dynamos committee member] will tell me that I have to pay to watch Dynamos play. Where were they when we were making this brand?
“We read in the papers about this year’s 50th anniversary celebrations. We should look at ourselves and ask what we are celebrating when both former players and the club have nothing to show for all those medals?” said Chari who earned his nickname “Beefy” because of his then huge frame.
“The club had a house in Livingstone Avenue, a stand in Waterfalls and a shop in the central business district [Harare], but all that is gone. This is also the same with us former players. We are wallowing in poverty and should be included in the celebrations so that we benefit as well.”
Chari, who used to wear size 38 shorts during his playing days, added his voice to the growing list of choruses calling for Dynamos to revive its junior policy.
“More often than not, you hear of a strike at Dynamos. Kana uine mwana ukamuudza kuti nhasi hapana chikafu tiri kurara nenzara anoenda kunozvitaura kunext door? We are bringing in mercenaries to the club. We should revive the junior policy that produced good players such as Memory Mucherahowa, Simon Chuma, Samson Choruwa, Taurai Mangwiro and Norman Maroto, just to mention a few,” said the 1990 Soccer Star of the Year finalist.
The 47-year-old who won seven championships with Dynamos and many trophies between 1983 and 1997, said he developed a thick skin after being forced to look after the rest of the family at the age of 11 following his father’s death in 1976.
“I was born in a family of 10 and my father worked as a general hand at Harare Hospital. It was never an easy life and we had to turn to vending in order to supplement our father’s meagre earnings. I had to stop going to school at the age of 11 to look after my little brothers George, William [also a former Dynamos player] and Peter. That made me strong,” said Chari who is the fifth born.
Chari, who wore a different colour of shorts from the rest of the squad members because he could not fit into the team’s shorts, vividly remembers his first game for Dynamos in 1983.
“In 1982 together with Moses Chunga we were turned away from Black Aces by coach Daniel Chikanda. I then went to play for BAT Ramblers and we played against Dynamos in a friendly match. Sunday and Misheck Chidzambwa were assigned to keep an eye on me and I remember playing very well in that match and when Sunday took over as coach at Dynamos he invited me to join the club in 1983.
“My first game was against FC Zurich of Switzerland in an international friendly match. I scored two goals and Lincoln Mutasa scored the third as we won 3-2. I played as a striker until 1985. I later switched to defence after Emerst Mutano did not turn up and the team’s coaches Obadiah Sarupinda and Sunday asked me to play as a defender against Highlanders. Highlanders then had good strikers such as Madinda Ndlovu, Nhamo Shambira and Tobias Mudyambanje, but we won the match 2-1 and Sarupinda praised me for a good performance after I shut them out. From that day I was used as a defender and Mutano left for Black Rhinos the following season,” he said with a chuckle.
But does he still habour any ambitions to coach either Dynamos or a Premiership team?
“No,” was the answer. “I coached Blackpool in 1997 and never got a cent. I told myself that maybe my involvement with the game ended when I retired as a player. The treatment I got was just not right,” said Chari who holds a Level One coaching certificate.
Chari, who at the age of 32 in 1997 was “forced” out of the club, had one last message to the team’s board of directors.
“At Dynamos once you play for more than five years they will throw you out and that is what happened to me in 1997. The same is also happening to Desmond Maringwa. That is really sad. Our fathers Bernard Marriot and Freddy Mukwesha should instill unity in the team,” he quipped.