THE Dynamos blue blood seemingly appeared to be in former CAPS United right back Steven “Cobra” Chikodzi from birth.
BY ALBERT MARUFU
With his father — Benjamin — being organising secretary for Dynamos’ Supporters Club and working at Sunday Athletic Sportswear, a shop owned by the then Dynamos coach Sunday Chidzambwa late in his career, odds were high that Chikodzi would make his name at the Glamour Boys.
“I grew up supporting Dynamos, just like everyone in the ghetto and wanted to play for the team. I could have joined the team in 1998 when I left CAPS United coach Steven Kwashi’s sportswear shop In-Sport to work at Sunday Chidzambwa’s Sunday Athletic Sportswear, but CAPS United refused to release me. I ended up retiring that year in frustration,” said Chikodzi, who broke into the CAPS United first team in 1987 after graduating from the juniors.
Chikodzi said his joining CAPS United was by chance, but he has no regrets about joining the “Green Machine.”
“It was in the early 1980s when I saw Forbes Ndaba [former Darryn T player]” wearing a State House Tornadoes Le Coq Sportif kit and I admired it. I went there for trials and together with Maxwell “Cheche” Billiat, Joel Mugabe and George Nechironga, we impressed,” said the 47-year-old.
“Instead of State House Tornadoes giving us the Le Coq Sportif kit from France as we had hoped for, we got Power Kit which was manufactured by Bata, a local brand, and this disappointed us.
“We did not join the team and that week coincided with trials for the Mashonaland East Under-18 team coached by Peter Nyama and Nelson Matongorere.
“We qualified and when it came to mentioning the clubs we were coming from, I just followed my colleagues Joel and Cheche who were coming from CAPS United. That’s how it all started.”
Chikodzi, a championship winner with the trailblazing 1996 CAPS United team vividly recalls his first game in CAPS United colours.
Coincidentally, his first game was to be against Dynamos in Moses Chunga’s testimonial in 1987. “Moses [Chunga] was going to Belgium to play for Eendracht Aalst and we played against Dynamos in his testimonial match.
“It was not a night to remember for me because I suffered the embarrassment of Chunga putting the ball in between my legs twice, much to the merriment of the Dynamos fans. However, Joel Shambo kept encouraging me,” said Chikodzi, a level II coaching certificate holder who is now coaching at Bheki Nyoni Academy and St Georges College.
His father Benjamin could only be happy that his son — whom he coached in the Area Zone leaguein Manicaland when he was a young boy — was now playing Premiership football.
“I was happy that my son went on to play football at a high level. I have been in the game for a long time and despite being the organising secretary for Dynamos supporters at one time, I encouraged Steven to join a club of his choice,” said Steven’s father.
His son later went on to establish himself at the right back position, winning the BAT Super League Runner Up medal in 1992, Africa Day Challenge Runner Up 1992, Castle Cup Runner Up 1992 and the Kingsgate Premier Soccer League championship medal in 1996, among a host of other accolades.
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However, though he got his baptism of fire in containing Chunga on his debut match in CAPS United colours, Chikodzi was to get his life lessons in the 1992 Castle Cup final against Darryn T.
“I was injured for that match, but coach Mkwesha asked me to play because almost all the defenders were injured. That day Alois Bunjira made me a laughing stock with his speed and we lost the match. I think that’s how he ended up being one of the 1992 Soccer Stars of the Year finalists while I missed out.
From that day, I learnt never to play a match when I am not 100% fit,” said the father of two, who was in the company of his cousin, former CAPS United star Masset Zengeni.
Chikodzi also talked of how he always struggled in containing Highlanders’ Madla Balanda.
“Vitalis Takawira and Bunjira were good dribblers, but I managed to contain them. Mandla was different as he came with all sorts of tricks,” he said.
Steven’s father concluded by advising today’s players to plan for their future. “Football is big business and even if one failed to prepare for his future during his heydays, he can still pick himself up as a coach or in any other capacity within football,” he said.