AT 66 years of age, legendary footballer George “Mastermind” Shaya has maintained his eloquence, but naturally his memory of yesteryear’s events is diminishing.
BY ALBERT MARUFU
Though he has even since forgotten where his only coaching certificate is, the grey haired record breaking five-time Soccer Star of the Year vividly remembers how his dream of attaining a teaching qualification went up in smoke at Murewa’s St Paul’s Mission.
In between gulps of Lion Lager beer and puffs of a Kingsgate cigarrette at his beloved joint, Spaceman Bar (The Boomerang) in Glen Norah, Shaya’s bloodshot eyes stare blankly as he looks back on what life would have been.
“During our time, soccer was played on a part-time basis, so one had to have another career. Father Edward Davies, who was coaching the then 1966 champions St Paul’s team offered me the opportunity to play football, and at the same time train to become a school teacher at the institution,” he said.
Fresh from finishing junior certificate studies at Highfields Community School, Shaya was looking forward to enjoying football, as well as attaining the teaching qualification.
However, one year through the course, Shaya was told that his junior certificate passes were two subjects short of the entrance requirement.
“I immediately left the club to rejoin Dynamos in 1968,” said Shaya.
“Life is about what you make out of it. When I did not qualify as a teacher at St Paul’s, I started looking into the future. I rejoined Dynamos who were being sponsored by British American Tobacco [BAT].
“The company trained me and other players, such as Simon Sachiti to become salesmen. I was employed at BAT as a salesman and later moved to Toyota Zimbabwe where I retired six years ago. I managed to secure a stand here in Glen Norah.”
But was he going to be a good primary school teacher had he successfully completed the course?
“Unfortunately, during the course when we were being appraised by our inspectors, they told me that I had a problem with raising my voice, which is a bad characteristic for a teacher. Teaching needs patience, which I do not think I have. I expect everyone to know what I know. Maybe that explains why I did not take up coaching upon retirement,” he said.
Though he went on to win the Soccer Star of the Year title a record five times — 1969, 1972, 1975, 1976 and 1977 – Shaya maintains his decorum.
“Soccer is not like boxing or tennis where you go it alone. It is a team sport and credit should go to my teammates,” he said.
On the failure by his offspring to carry on the Shaya name on the soccer front, the former Dynamos chairman said he is not disappointed at all.
“My son Stanley played football at school, but that was it and I am not disappointed at all. I am glad that he has given me a grandchild in Georgina,” he said.
“Of the six boys in our family, my younger brother Albert liked golf, while Oliver played up to the area zone level. I am not disappointed at all. My only wish is for the Ministry of Education, Sport, Arts and Culture to look after the facilities we have countrywide.”
I could not impress abroad — Shaya
George Shaya’s biggest disappointment in his football life was the failure to play professionally abroad for a longer period.
“I had a brief stint with Moroka Swallows in South Africa, but felt home sick. As a young man, I was adventurous, but I did not like the social life in South Africa. I also had a trial with a team in Portugal, but did not get any feedback. I guess that meant I failed,” said the former Rhodesia ( now Zimbabwe) captain.