BY MUNYARADZI MADZOKERE
FOR someone who was a vital cog in the trailblazing Highlanders side that won four consecutive league championships from the late 1990s going into the new millennium, it’s surprising that Blessing Gumiso never received a call-up to the Warriors squad.
Perhaps the most underrated defensive midfielders to ply his trade in local football, Gumiso won at least 13 other trophies during a career that spanned more than a decade.
And while he now spends most of his time nurturing the next generation of football stars at his Northriding Grassroots Soccer Development project in Johannesburg, the fact that he never received a national team call-up in spite of the success he achieved with his club still bothers him.
“Locally I achieved almost everything, winning every cup with Bosso from the 1998/99 season to 2002, a period in which we won four league championships on the trot. But one thing I desperately wanted was to play for my national team. l still think l was not given a chance looking at players from my generation,” Gumiso told The Sports Hub from his South African base.
Gumiso, who turns 43 in August, was an ever-present feature in the star-studded Bosso side that included the likes of Thulani Ncube, Sizabantu Khoza, Dazzy Kapenya Zenzo Moyo, Thabani Masawi and Gift Lunga, among others.
Having started his career in Mutare as one of the finest talents to emerge from the Eastern Highlands alongside the likes of the late Blessing Makunike, Nyarai Masunde and Dananai Chinowawa, Gumiso made his name in Bulawayo.
“My career started in Sakubva, Mutare, playing plastic balls before joining City Vellos, which was coached and owned by the late former Tanganda defender Ian Matondo,” he said.
“I played for a lot of teams in Division Two and later then Mutare United in the league, which was later sold to Gweru United in 1997 in the middle of the season. Unfortunately, Gweru United was relegated and I went back to Mutare.
“I went to Bulawayo for trials without invitation and one of my biggest achievements was getting a contract with Highlanders as an unknown from Mutare.”
After leaving Highlanders in 2003, Gumiso joined Sporting Lions before moving to Mwana Africa with whom he won the Nestle Cup and represented Zimbabwe in the Caf Confederations Cup.
Gumiso revealed that he decided to cut off completely from football following his retirement more than a decade ago.
“l never wanted anything to do with soccer when I retired, so doing soccer coaching courses was the last thing on my mind. After retirement, I went into buying and selling of clothes at my shop Mr Jeans in Bulawayo,” he recalled.
“But with the Zimbabwe situation, my business got crippled and I decided to go back to soccer. I started by coaching juniors in Bulawayo at an academy called FMSA for nearly a year, then I tracked down South where I am now.”
In South Africa, Gumiso, who possesses Zifa Level 1 and 2 coaching certificates as well as a number of grassroots coaching badges, is running a football development project.
“I formed the Northriding Grassroots Soccer Development project and I am the coach with one assistant while I am looking at adding more coaches as we grow. The idea is to help all the young players to climb the leader into professional football in South Africa and overseas,” he said.
“In terms of age groups, I am looking at five years up to 20 both boys and girls. But the big dream for me is to have a project as big as Methembe Ndlovu’s Bantu Rovers back home. In future, I will definitely set up a Blessing Gumiso Academy in my home town, Mutare.”
Gumiso also shared on his other coaching dreams.
“I really want to coach Bosso in my lifetime. I already have my technical team, which I cannot reveal right now. I also want to coach a Mutare Premier Soccer League team because there is a lot of talent in my home area,” he said.
“It is also my dream to win league championships like I did during my playing days and also to produce stars from the grassroots level,” he said.
Married to Patience Chimoyo, Gumiso is a father of two girls Nina (16) and Owami (11).