JOHANNESBURG-BASED former Warriors utility player Edelbert Dinha is a man on a mission.
yesteryear profile with MUNYARADZI MADZOKERE
He knew exactly what he wanted to do at the end of a glittering career that took him from Darryn T to CAPS United, Sokół Pniewy Poland, Ajax Cape Town and Orlando Pirates in South Africa.
After hanging up his boots in 2009, Dinha embarked on an ambitious junior development project, the Shumba Football Development in March 2012 and it has grown in leaps and bounds.
“I want Shumba Football Development to be the best in Africa that produces the best youngsters playing in Europe or the biggest teams in Africa and educate them about life and education,” he said in an interview with Standardsport.
The Gauteng-based academy mainly works with kids from Cosmo, Thembisa, Soweto and Alexander, aged between 13 and 20 years with a view of nurturing talent from South Africa’s disadvantaged communities.
Dinha, who is also a player agent, wants to give back to budding players in disadvantaged communities and take them out of poverty.
“The experience I got playing in Europe and locally taught me a lot, so that is how I decided to give back the knowledge and help the boys and players to fulfill their dreams of playing soccer at an higher level,” he said.
“When I left home for Poland. I was very young and to play in a country without knowing anyone and the language was very difficult, as well as the weather and food. But now it’s also my turn to help youngsters make those kind of moves and equip them.”
Dinha named the academy Shumba after his own totem.
He joins a number of former Warriors footballers who have chosen the direction of junior development instead of coaching top clubs.
The player, popularly known as Phil Collins by his legion of fans, does not harbour any interest of coaching top clubs.
“I would rather stick to development football. I am loving and enjoying it so much that I don’t even see myself changing. Naturally, I have a passion for the little ones and there is no stress at all working with them,” he said.
Dinha’s playing career began in Chitungwiza where he also played football in the streets before he became part of the famous youthful Darryn T side that caused a stir in local football in the early 1990s.
“When I was a kid, I loved playing football more than anything else. We would play a tennis ball on the streets facing oncoming cars with the likes of Norman Mapeza, Butler Masango, Lloyd Chitembwe and Reuben Tawodzera among others,” he said.
“I am proud to have been part of the special group at Darryn T back in 1992 that reached the Castle Cup final. A lot of them went on to play overseas and had successful careers.
“Credit should go to Weislaw Grabowski who used to spot talent and train us in technique that we would apply when we went to play overseas. He did that to a lot of us and by doing so, every youngster wanted to play for Darryn T back then.”
Looking back, the player capped 12 times by the Zimbabwe Warriors has no regrets over a professional career that lasted for 19 years.
“I always wanted to be seen on television playing soccer when I was young and I also wanted to play overseas and I achieved that. I have no regrets about my career and I loved the challenges I faced in the clubs I played for.”
Dinha also played for teams such as Ajax Cape Town, FC AK and Mpumalanga Black Aces in South Africa.
He picked two of his best players he played alongside during his career.
“Joe Mugabe was unbelievable. He had the never-say-die attitude and a positive character, the kind I have never seen before. Steven Pienaar at Ajax Cape Town was magical, wasn’t scared to take on opponents at the age of 16 and you could see a future ahead of him,” he said.
Dinha was part of the Zimbabwe squad which featured at the 2006 African Nations Cup of Nations.