WEARING dreadlocks is usually perceived to be either a fashion statement or a religious belief.
BY ALBERT MARUFU
However, for retired national rugby team captain and national basketball star, Constantine “Costa” Dinha, economic and weather factors influenced this decision upon his arrival in Germany in 2002.
Not only did he have to cope with the weather as well as fight for a place in the SC Neuheim team, but he also had to deal with the exorbitant prices of visiting the barbershops in that country. It just was too expensive for him to maintain a closely cropped hairstyle.
“The only barbershop that catered for us [black people]charged 25 euros [approximately US$34,36]. That’s a lot of money so I decided to wear dreadlocks. I am not a Rastafarian as some people would want to believe. Dreadlocks were cheaper to maintain and we used to do it ourselves with team mate Jeff Tigere,” said Dinha, who has since quit rugby to persue karate.
Now spotting closely cropped hair, Dinha added: “Though dreadlocks looked strange on me at first, I began to like the hairstyle and the environment. During those days we used to come home twice a year.”
The former utility forward has fond memories of his seven-year stint in Germany, despite the inadvertent change in lifestyle.
“It was tough, but we won the Bundesliga championship twice. In 2003 and 2004 our team was voted the Team of the Year in Heidelberg. I later joined RG Heidelberg and we also won two championships in 2007 and 2008. I however, suffered two successive knee injuries in 2007 and 2008,” said Dinha, who returned home in 2010 due to “home sickness.”
“In Germany I also learnt that player welfare is very important. I had two nasty injuries but did not suffer that much financially because I was insured. This should be introduced locally,” he said.
To him, it is because of this conviction that he fell out with the powers that be at Zimbabwe Rugby Union (ZRU) last year.
“Last year I was part of the group that signed a petition against what we perceived to be wrong doing by ZRU and then team manager Lowson Mtongwiza. We were labelled rebels and we were subsequently dropped from the national team and as a result the team gave away the Africa Cup in Madagascar,” said Dinha, who claims to possess an IRB Level Two coaching certificate.
“I still stand by that conviction. There were issues that needed to be addressed and I will do the same thing if I were to find myself in a similar situation.”
Now concentrating on his role as Old Hararians (OH) Sports Club captain, Dinha said the first thing he would do if he got the chance to lead local rugby would be to correct structures.
Dinha, who was part of the OH championship winning team last season, played rugby at Prince Edward High School where he played in the same team with current Peter House coach Scott Grey.
“I played in the national Under-21, but broke into the Old Hararians first team in 1998,” he said.
While his rugby was looking promising, Dinha continued playing basketball and made the Zimbabwe Schools team.
“Basketball season is played between September and March and that allowed me to play. I was playing for my brother Joseph’s team Celtic.
I played in the game against Zambia in 1997 and also played in the Zone Six qualifier against Angola,” said the former power forward.
“I later left Celtic because I failed to command a first team position and moved to Admire Masenda-coached Varsity Leopards in 2000. I was named the Most Valuable Player in two tournaments namely; the Maze Basketball tournament and the Alkade Basketball tournament. We also won the Harare Basketball League the same year,” he said.
His crowning year however, finally came in 2001 when he emerged as the highest point scorer, Rugby Player of the Year and runner up to Elliot Mujaji for the Sportsperson of the Year award.
The following year he moved to Germany and thus his rugby career prospered at the expense of his basketball career.
“I first captained Zimbabwe senior rugby team in 2004 under Brighton Chivandire. I am happy with the team’s achievements during that period. We won the Victoria Cup in 2011 and I am glad to have been part of that united team. We also got promoted to Group 1A and we are still in that group,” said the 37-year-old.
He added: “I had to quit the sport to concentrate on starting a family. I intend to get married soon. This is something that is difficult when you are a national captain.”
On the Sables preparations for the 2015 Rugby World Cup, Dinha said the silence was deafening.
“If there isn’t any improvement, we can as well kiss good bye to any chances of qualifying,” he said.