Adios, natural diplomat Victor Zvobgo

Allow me to steal Mukoma Victor from the football scene for a moment just to share the character of a person he was.

As we gathered to bid farewell to the pioneering spirit of the first Vice Chairman of the Premier Soccer League Victor Zvobgo earlier this week I overheard someone whisper, "Victor was a good man who brought this calming effect in the National Premier Soccer League leadership at the height of their battles with the Zifa."

Unfortunately I failed to pick out who exactly had said those words among the sports journalists who had travelled to Mhondoro, his final resting, but yes, that guy was spot on.

My brother Victor had a healing effect on every situation in this life.

He was very accommodative and very adaptable.

The mere fact that he could fluently speak eight languages (English, French, Ndebele, Shona, Tonga, Nyanja, Bemba and Chinese)  is a clear testimony of his ability to metaphor and fit in anywhere,  anytime.

Allow me to steal Mukoma Victor from the football scene for a moment just to share the character of a person he was.

Our fathers were cousin brothers, mine Eddison was famous, his Davison was also very famous as a teacher.

During holidays we would frequently meet and he struck me as a heavily gifted person.

He could practically do anything which made it easy for him to gel well as the first black student at Oriel Boys High.

Whilst he played many sports with ease, he was also very affable with everyone.

When we had to choose career paths, I chose to be a lawyer but he chose to be a soldier because he loved his country deeply and he wanted to serve it.

But he promised me that he would eventually learn law as well, and he did later in his life.

I had to make sure that when he acquired his law degree I had acquired two Masters of Law, because I knew that he would be in pursuit.

While I managed to distinguish myself in that regard, Victor was so much that I could not be for example he was a pilot.

Once attested in the army, he soared his career to dizzy heights, breaking many barriers being the trojan horse he was.

At the time of his passing he was Air Force of Zimbabwe Group Captain (Retired).

He had taken early retirement.

He had joined the national army in 1983.

After exhibiting enthusiastic ambition, he was transferred to the Air Force of Zimbabwe and was subsequently commissioned to the rank of Air Sub Lieutenant after doing his pilot training in China as an officer cadet.

He was promoted to the rank of flight lieutenant in 1988 and became squadron leader a decade later.

At the peak of his military career, Victor was appointed Deputy Defense Attache at the Zimbabwe Embassy in London from 1999 to 2006 where he served diligently.

Whilst this affected his role in national football matters, he continued to support grass root football by sourcing accessories for underprivileged schools for the game he loved so much.

While in London, he became popular among immigrants as he was always there to give a helping hand.

Back home, with his big heart, he initiated a community borehole drilling programme, a notion I have perpetuated to even today.

He organised borehole drilling machines that offered cheaper services for poor rural communities. At times boreholes were drilled for free.

Up to this day, I am still hooked on providing water solutions to rural communities.

Upon his return from the diaspora, his demonstrated loyalty earned him the role of Staff Officer Grade Two Protocol at the Zimbabwe Defense Forces headquarters in 2006.

He had hoped to make a return to football administration but would always complain that there were too many people without honour and integrity on the scene.

He had always wanted me to sponsor football but I had never seen the business side of it.

"Alright then, sponsor boxing because you only have to buy a pair of gloves, a pair of shorts and some boots, with a stroke of luck you can earn millions," he chuckled.

I followed his advice and ended up sponsoring Charles Manyuchi who brought so much honour to our country as a conquering fighter.

At the funeral parade speech, Airforce Commander Elson Moyo said, "The fact that Zvobgo was a keen sportsman who was actively involved in sports administration within the ZDF and domestic soccer further buttresses the point that he was a patriotic soldier.

"The late retired senior officer was decorated with the following medals: Independence medal; Ten Year Service Medal; Mozambique Campaign; Long and Exemplary Service Medal; DRC Campaign and the Commander of The Order of Merit."

The army has lost one of its sharp minds and a natural diplomat; the football family has lost a fountain of wisdom and torch-bearer; Manchester United has lost a supporter and the Zvobgo family has lost a fortress character who stood for everyone in every situation.

In our recent conversations, our talk had oddly matured to asking each other how our grandchildren were doing.

When smilingly asked how many now, you knew exactly what was being asked, and had to answer with the right number.

Rest well my brother.

Till we meet again, I will be supporting my Liverpool.

Eddison Zvobgo is the Member of Parliament for Masvingo Central constituency. He sponsored Charles Manyuchi as a professional boxer as he held the WBC Silver welterweight title. He won the ABU welterweight title in 2013. In 2014, he won the WBC International welterweight title against Patrick Allotey.

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