FORMER Dynamos winger Owen Chandamale walks with a heavy limp as he slowly makes his way into the resort town of Tunisia’s Residence Nour Hotel in Bizerte.
BY ALBERT MARUFU
The 72-year old Dynamos founding father had just come from a briefing with other members of Dynamos just before the team’s CAF Champions League clash against CA Bizertin in which the team lost 3-0.
Slowly he makes his way to the nearest couch and winces in pain stroking his right knee.
“If the weather is as cold as it is right now the pain is unbearable. Maybe zvasangana nekuchembera (It’s old age),” he said with a chuckle offering a firm handshake that defied his age.
“Football gave me this scar, but I carry it with pride because it made me who I am. I am a natural fighter. I could have quit the game altogether in 1972, but it is my passion and today look where I am.”
Though in obvious pain, owing to the career ending knee injury sustained in 1972 while playing for Dynamos against Black Aces, Chandamale who is the team’s director of coaching is aware of the task at hand.
“We have to win this game by at least two clear goals. This is achievable if the players remain as focused as they are now,” said the 72 year-old level four coaching certificate holder.
Chandamale, who won a number of trophies in Dynamos colours in a career that began as a reserve team member in 1963 before breaking into the first team in 1965, has the CAF Champions League final on his mind, though it will be tough now that his team lost 3-0 in the first leg.
“We did not have the chance to participate in these competitions. I will be happy if we are to win it when I am the director of coaching. The football brain knows no age and that is why we are here. As the fathers of the club, our role will always be that of giving guidance to the youngsters. Dynamos is a club of fighters,” he said gazing at the angry Mediterranean Sea overlooking the hotel.
“During our time it was not all about money. We could go to play Highlanders in Bulawayo and get two pounds which was next to nothing. I always tell today’s youngsters to concentrate on their game and the rest will follow. Unfortunately they tend to focus more on money. They should also remember that no matter how good you are, you must take the coach’s advice seriously.”
Reflecting on his short career which tragically ended with the injury at the age of 30, Chandamale feels he could have played until maybe 40 had there been proper medical cover.
“I could not afford the required treatment and my boss at Tabex Antony Taberer told me to stop playing football because of the injury. I was shattered,” he said.
However, little did he know that the injury was opening him for a career in coaching leading to the position he has now.
“In 1972 Tabex formed a soccer team and though I was not qualified, I coached the team. I only qualified as a coach in 1983 and it was in 1984 when I acquired Level Four certificate that I helped the team gain promotion to Division One,” said Chandamale who took over his current job in the Dynamos board from Sunday Chidzambwa.
He urged current players not to rely only on football as a means of survival.
“Though football is big business the world over, it does not pay much in Zimbabwe and players need to look elsewhere to subsidise their income. I took management courses and they helped me when I got injured,” said Chandamale.
“Young players should also not rush to play in South Africa, but be patient and wait for an opportunity to make it to Europe,” he said.
Chandamale also spoke about his new found faith.
“I was a drunkard and smoked heavily, but I am now a firm believer in God. I had arthritis in 1997 and it healed in a miraculous way that made me realise the power of God. Today I am an Evangelist at The House of Shekinah which is headed by Bishop Mupanduki in Westlea,” he said.
I’m the one who unearthed Chimutanda
Chandamale vividly remembers bringing in a raw Archford Chimutanda to the club from Mufakose Boys Club before he was snatched by Glens Strikers in 1977.
“I coached a number of players and Chimutanda and Francis Madziva whom we later sold to Sporting Lions are some of them. Other notable players are Bhuka Muchenu who had left Mhangura, Shingi Nyamadzawo and Bhoni Makuruza,” he said.
Chandamale, who together with cabinet Minister Herbert Murerwa, were some of the first students to enroll at Harare High School in Mbare is grateful with what the sport has done for him.
“I have been the Zifa Harare Province chairperson since 2000 and am enjoying my football life,” he said.