For a town that has not tasted premier league football since Zimbabwe attained its independence in 1980, the promotion of Dongo Sawmills FC into the top flight league came as sweet music to Rusape residents.
The new premiership side will be using Rusape’s Vhengere Stadium as their home ground.
And for a team that was clobbered 14-0 by Shabanie Mine in a Zifa Unity Cup a few seasons ago, prospects of being promoted into the premier league were remote.
Dongo FC won the sole ticket to play in the premier league from the Zifa Eastern Region after finishing at 67 points — two ahead of Mutare FC who had to settle for second position.
Standardsport caught up with Francis Dongo — the owner of the club whose passion for football saw him playing soccer at the highest level only to suffer a career-ending injury in 2005.
Dongo doubles as Dongo FC chairman and premier league outfit Buffaloes FC vice-chairman.
“Dongo Sawmills FC is a community team for residents of Nyanga and Rusape. I am the vice-chairman of Buffaloes FC as well as the chairman of Dongo FC. We will stick to professionalism regardless of the fact that I hold positions in both teams,” said Dongo on being asked how he was going to handle influential positions in both teams.
“I got injured in 2005 when I was playing soccer for my team but that did not kill the passion of football in me. To me, it’s actually a wish fulfilled and a dream realised. Now we have been promoted and we are ready to play in the premiership for the first time since Independence,” he said.
Dongo applauded the business community of Rusape and Nyanga whom he said had started renovating the stadium ahead of the new soccer season.
“The business community has started renovating the pitch ahead of the town council and that is commendable.
“We have roped in [ICT minister and Nyanga South MP] Supa Mandiwanzira as our patron and he has promised to help us attract sponsors. He has also promised to build a stadium in Nyanga,” Dongo said.
Dongo said there were amicable relationships between teams in Manicaland.
“We have a very good relationship with fellow teams in Manicaland. We got five players from Mutare City FC and we have a very good relationship with Buffaloes and this will help us sail through in terms of morale support,” he said.
He also paid tribute to Shadreck Mugurasave for a job well done.
“Shadreck is a very good coach and is now credited with bringing two teams into the premiership from the Eastern Region after he guided Buffaloes into the premier league some seasons back.”
Dongo said a lot of food outlets had started sprouting in Rusape in anticipation of business expected during league matches.
“A lot of food outlets are sprouting while the existing ones are being renovated. Hotel owners should also take this opportunity to renovate their properties. It’s a first for all business people including vendors and transport operators,” said an elated Dongo.