MASVINGO — Football enthusiasts in Masvingo were reminded of the heydays of topflight football in the country’s oldest colonial settlement as Mucheke Stadium recently hosted a clash between former Masvingo United players and the current team.
BY SUKUOLUHLE NDLOVU
It was a bitter-sweet experience for the former stars of the once mighty “Una Una” who drew one all with the current Masvingo United team last Sunday.
The match was part of the 50th anniversary celebrations for Tanda Tavaruva, the founder and former sponsor of Masvingo United.
The former businessman, who could not grace the occasion that was organised for him by the club’s former players as he was reportedly not feeling well, was honoured in absentia for the great work he did for the team until he pulled out from sponsoring the club.
Tavaruva of Mhunga and Sons Buses took the team through its glorious days where Masvingo United became one of the best teams in the domestic Premiership until their relegation in 2011.
During the club’s golden era, Masvingo United won the Zifa Unity Cup in 2001 and 2005, the 2006 and 2007 Independence Trophy and the 2005 OK Woza Bhora champions. they have, however, since fallen on hard times and are now plying their trade in the Eastern Region Division Two league.
Former Masvingo United midfielder Isaac Chapura said they decided to organise the match as a way of honouring their former benefactor for the sterling work he did during the club’s glory days.
“We wanted to honour the former bus owner Mhunga for the great work he did during the time he sponsored the team. We were part of the crew and we also wanted him to come and watch us play and entertain him. We wanted to make him cool down a bit as he is not feeling well because soccer lights up his spirits. that is why we planned this game for him and also invited his wife Pelagia Tavaruva.”
Chapura said as the club’s former players, they were disappointed by Masvingo United’s failure to regain promotion into the topflight league since its relegation in 2011.
Masvingo United plunged to the third tier of domestic football last year after failing to raise the $3 100 affiliation fee required for them to register for the Eastern Region Division One League.
In the end they were only able to register for the Zifa Division Two League after paying the required $500 affiliation fee and $150 for players’ registration.
“We need to look for sponsors for the team for it to get back to its heyday and keep on existing,” Chapura said.
“We as players want to form a board where we will all be involved and look for sponsorship as former players. maybe it will bring a difference and sponsors will come forward as we have a history with the team,” said Chapura.
Besides Chapura, some of the club’s former players who graced the match include, George Charumbira, Douglas Zimbango, Godfrey Dondo, Patson Rakabopa, Clifford Rakabopa, David Mutale, Joe Kwangware, Eddie Zimuto, Ben Matenga, Masimba Madziwana, Innocent Taweni, Johannes Nhumwa, Ringwa Kanyemba, Ringisai Nyahunda, Cuthbert Kwangware, Chidaushe Munyanyi, Chida Mudadi, Itai Ngorima, Charles Muchipanda and Taurai Mangwiro, who is now in charge of Premiership side Triangle.
While most of the club’s former players have since moved on, one player who has remained loyal to Masvingo United is dreadlocked former skipper Dondo, who was nicknamed “Mai Mahofa”.
The 39-year-old roving right-back, who started his football career with Zimbabwe Saints junior teams in the City of Kings in the late 80s, is still involved with Masvingo United as the team’s assistant player/coach.
While Masvingo remains stuck in the doldrums six years after being relegated from the Premiership for the third time at the end of the year 2011 season, most of its former players continue to make an impact in Zimbabwean football.
Some of the club’s former players include Warriors defender Costa Nhamoinesu, who plays for Sparta Prague in Czech Republic, the 2017 Cosafa Cup Golden Boot winner Ovidy Karuru who now plays for Amazulu in South Africa, Ngezi Platinum Stars midfilder Walter Mukanga, the Yadah FC duo of goalkeeper Tafadzwa Dube and midfilder Milton Makopa and FC Platinum goalkeeper Francis Tizayi, only to mention a few.