At 35, defender Davison “Goriati” Tavari was one of Ngezi Platinum Stars’ standout performers this season.
BY MUNYARADZI MADZOKERE
In fact; the season has been some sort of a fairytale for the player whose football career began at an advanced age of 25 at Bindura-based Mwana Africa back in 2007.
Before that, Tavari was a popular disc jockey (DJ) in Bindura, making a living from dexterously scratching and spinning the turntables in bars and night clubs around the mining town.
Occasionally he would travel to Harare for the DJ clashes, rubbing shoulders with some of the finest in the business.
And football was a talent he never really took seriously despite encouragement from peers and coaches who had the privilege of seeing him play.
“I started playing football in 2007 at Mwana Africa where I grew up. Before that I was a DJ in Bindura playing in clubs, bars and at corporate functions. I used to go for DJ Cup clashes with the likes of Tonderai Katsande and DJ Scott,” the lanky footballer told The Sports Hub soon after he was awarded the loyalty accolade at the Ngezi Platinum end of year awards last week.
Tavari recalls days when then Mwana Africa coach Arthur Tutani would chase him away from training for lack of seriousness each time he decided to pitch up for training.
And it took some pep talk from former Warriors and Kaizer Chiefs defender Thomas Sweswe for the man known as Goriati or Diva to finally concentrate on football.
“Sweswe is the one who pushed me to be serious with my football and I want to thank him. At Mwana Africa I was never serious with football. I would just go for training when I felt like going and Tutani, the coach, would chase me away from the team because of my lack of seriousness.
“Sweswe would say ‘Diva, you are a very good footballer and I want to see you take it seriously’ and he gave me two pairs of football boots. After that I thought that if a stranger could encourage me in such a manner, it meant I had something special. Since then, I have worked extremely hard to be where I am today. I stopped being a DJ to concentrate on football and I also started enjoying my football more,” Tavari revealed.
The tough-tackling defender joined Ngezi Platinum Stars back in 2012 when the team was still in Division Two, hence the recognition from the club.
His dream has always been to play premiership football in the country and the dream came true last season when at 33, he made his debut.
What makes Tavari’s account sweeter is that at the beginning of the season, the club executive saw him as excess baggage but coach Tonderai Ndiraya stuck to his guns and kept the player.
The father of four could not hide his joy after receiving the club’s most loyal player award.
“I am very happy because I have achieved something at Ngezi Platinum. I give all credit to the coach Ndiraya who is always pushing me to be better. I also try to push the youngsters so they know how far determination can take them in football.”
The player has had to bear the brunt of being overlooked by the club’s coaches in the past; always warming the bench, but this year was a different story under Ndiraya.
“We had a lot of games and many times I used to just sit on the bench. It was painful, but I was patient and the coach kept faith in me and kept me in the game. After seeing my commitment and work ethic, he promised to give me game-time and he gave it to me. Eventually I enjoyed my season,” he said.
With a massive clear out looming at the club, Tavari is likely going to be one of the players to be released by the club mainly because of his age.
One wonders whether Ndiraya will still stand up for the player whose defensive qualities are undoubted but who is on the wrong side of age.
Tavari believes he has more to offer to the game before he can call it a day.
“I think I have three to four years of football left in me. I still have energy to play football but whenever I feel I cannot go on, then I will stop. If I am going to move on from this club next season, I will consider a job opportunity with a new club because of my age,” he said.
The Bindura-born footballer is one of the oldest players who held their own in the domestic premiership last season. The big question is, could this be the end of his decade-long football story?
Only time will tell.