PLUCKED from the dusty streets of Gweru while playing in the unfashionable world of Division One, Chicken Inn’s Edmore Chirambadare’s story sounds more like a fairytale.
BY Fortune Mbele and Sakheleni Nxumalo
All tributes go to Tsholotsho FC coach Lizwe Sweswe who identified Chirambadare when he was only 17 during the Zimbabwe National Youth Games in Gwanda while he was playing for the Midlands Province.
Sweswe did not rush, only bringing in Chirambadare to Tsholotsho FC in Zifa Southern Region Soccer League Division One side in 2013.
Chirambadare then inspired Tsholotsho FC to the Premier Soccer League, topping the scorers’ charts with 13 goals last year when Sweswe’s side wrote its own piece of history—becoming the first club from a rural setting in independent Zimbabwe to be promoted to the topflight football league.
At 23, coming right from the world of Division One, the nimble-footed Chirambadare has taken the topflight league by storm. He is the joint leading scorer with title-chasing Chicken Inn, tied on 11 goals with Highlanders’ Knox Mutizwa, a feat that has earned him a call-up to the national team.
“It is exciting for me to be coming from Division One and now being the leading scorer in the PSL and being in the national team in my first year in topflight football. It is hard work that has seen me achieve this,” said Chirambadare, who is part of the Warriors Chan squad.
A product of Bristol City juniors in Gweru from 2005, Chirambadare did his primary and secondary education in the city before proceeding to join Gweru Pirates in the Zifa Central Region Division One, as well as GMB Silo and Zim Alloys, teams that also play in the Central Region.
“I used to play in Gweru with Sweswe’s nephew Kriess Chitiyo. That’s how the coach got to know me, but his interest in me grew when he saw me during the Youth Games in Gwanda in 2009. He then lured me to join Tsholotsho in 2013. In my second year at Tsholotsho, I scored 13 goals in Division One, taking them to the PSL. It was the same year I was discovered by Chicken Inn coach [Joey] Antipas while playing against Black Boots at Fairbridge,” Chirambadare added.
Chirambadare scored a brace in the game against Black Boots and Tsholotsho FC won 2-1 away from home.
“Antipas immediately said ‘we want you for next year’. He is a very good coach who always insists on discipline. But I also give thanks to all the guys at Chicken Inn who have been very motivational,” said Chirambadare.
“I went to Highlanders at the end of 2013 but the reception there was not good. Maybe it was because they were chasing the championship and I was disturbing them. I then went back to Tsholotsho FC,” he added.
The hitman is currently sitting on five yellow cards and admits he will have to be very careful during the remainder of the season.
“I will try by all means to maintain discipline so that I do not pick up a sixth yellow as it would be a big achievement to be chosen among the country’s best in my first season in the PSL,” Chirambadare said.
Chirambadare’s dream is to play outside the country next year if chances come.
In July, he went for trials at South Africa’s Bidvest Wits but the move did not materialise.
Is Chirambadare going to bag the Golden Best Award? Only time will tell.