Wearing a torn pair of trousers which is three quarters the normal length and exposes legs covered in dust and barefoot, Shinga Mudzudzu weaves through other boys, some much older than him as he successfully performs a close ball control drill. He is five years old.
BY MUNYARADZI MADZOKERE
“Right, now you got it. Let’s do the other one. We want to see the champion now!” says Stanley “Samora” Chirambadare from the sidelines as he took his Revival Academy boys through their paces at Mufakose High 3 in Harare last week.
The eager boys immediately sprang into action in a bid to be named champion of the moment.
A former Dynamos star defender, Chirambadare has a dream to develop football in the Mufakose community.
“When these kids reduce the levels of poverty in this community by playing football, I will be a happy man. There is money in football. If two or three kids can make it big in football, everybody else will learn that this is the right way to go,” Chirambadare told the Standardsport crew that had visited his training session in Mufakose last week.
“I’m working with exporting in mind. This is a way of alleviating poverty through sport. Right now we are enjoying the Olympics and those are just kids who made a decision and some were even forced to pursue their talent and they are now enjoying success. That’s the whole idea — to transform these lives,” he said.
Chirambadare who is brothers with former Dynamos goal minder Ernest Chirambadare began this academy in 2009 with just seven kids, but now at least 60 future stars are in his books.
His sharp tongue has seen the former Warriors defender make enemies at Dynamos and he hasn’t changed much from being ruthlessly frank in opinion and what he stands for.
Spotting his trademark beard which makes him look like the late Mozambican statesman Samora Machel, Chirambadare wasted no time to lambast football administrators in the country.
“I am a fighter, even if you look into the archives you will find out that I have always stood for what I believed. But ironically, what I have always been talking about is negatively affecting our football and I could see it when I was young,” declared the 53-year-old former defence stalwart.
“First of all, football is for footballers, it’s not for supporters. Supporters can never run football. It will never work, its treasonous to put somebody who is not qualified in charge of things.
“I read a story in the media recently saying Kenny Mubaiwa [Dynamos president] is under pressure. He has to look at his technical department. What pressure when someone simply failed to plan because they have disregarded junior football? They buy players every season, where is the money coming from and who is benefitting from the transactions?” Chirambadare said.
“This is the Samora bit of it. I do not just take everything sheepishly, I think. I am part of that breed of players that went to school and think for the benefit of the sport. Generally people prefer people who do not think, they like stupid people in place not people who challenge what they are doing, but then in football we need people who challenge the status quo for progress,” he said.
Chirambadare did not spare the Philip Chiyangwa-led Zimbabwe Football Association (Zifa) in his criticism.
“That’s why we have an association that begs, but football is big business. There is a lot of money, so we should not beg. But who would want to give Chiyangwa money? People don’t know him and he has no football background. The major challenge is there are no former footballers in charge or being used as a front. This is why we have no sponsors in football.
“The Mighty Warriors embarrassed us at the Olympics and it was not their fault but Zifa should be going back to the drawing board. They must start with 14-year-olds, who will do us proud, say in four years’ time. [We need a different kind of football] not the football we were playing and people clapped for us out of pity. We played horrible football,” scoffed the former Kutama and Highfield High student.
The first born in a family of six, Chirambadare joined Dynamos juniors in 1981 while doing Advanced Level at Highfield High School in Harare. He started off as a midfield linkman before he dropped to defence.
Chirambadare briefly quit football to pursue a career as a tax officer before he resurfaced at Arcadia United. He was back at Dynamos in 1986 where he won a number of trophies before he retired in 1991.
“I had a good career at Dynamos and at one time I was supposed to go to Coventry City with Peter Ndlovu but age was not in my favour. Back in the day, we used to play friendlies with the teams like Grasshoppers from Switzerland and other European clubs. It’s not happening because we don’t have capable administrators anymore,” he said.
When he hung up his boots, he wanted nothing to do with football but to concentrate on his job and family until Sunday Chidzambwa talked him into coaching.
Since then, his biggest job has been as a Dynamos assistant coach under Keagan Mumba. He also coached Sporting Lions in Division One.
A holder of a Caf B Licence, Chirambadare can coach in the local premier league but says he would not stomach the embarrassment of coaching adults with no football basics.
“I qualify to coach in the premier league right now but I am not a foolish man. I don’t want to be embarrassed coaching people who can’t even control the ball. I would rather be with these young players, teaching them the right things.”
Chirambadare has been working on his academy project full time since 2009 and apart from a government pension, he receives some help from a few well-wishers to keep the project going.
“I do this full-time, so I can’t go and find a job and leave these kids. These guys should be eating better food. If the finances permitted, we would come up with a feeding programme for their physical development, so I would appreciate any kind of help at this moment,” he said.
Chirambadare, who boasts of having coached Khama Billiat and Partson Jaure, while they were small boys, hopes to create a new breed of stars to conquer world football.