Takudzwa Chitsiga Sports Reporter
FORMER Amazulu, Dynamos and Kiglon striker Gift Zvavanhu has died. Zvavanhu (35) died at his rural home in Buhera on Monday morning after a long illness. He cut his professional career with the now defunct Amazulu and went on to play for Dynamos where he made his name, winning the June 2006 Premier Soccer League top goalscorer of the month award.
The player had since hung up his boots and was now a Physical Education teacher at Churchill Boys High School as well as the school team’s football coach.
A teacher by profession, who trained at Hillside Teacher’s College in Bulawayo, the untimely death of Zvavanhu saw several people passing on their condolences.
Churchill High School teacher-in-charge of soccer and friend, Jason Mhundwa, said they have lost a hard working coach who managed to turn around the school team’s fortunes.
“After bringing him on board in 2009 Zvavanhu managed to transform several things and nurtured many talented players who went on to play at big clubs.
“He came here after he hanged his boots in 2009 and he managed to win several trophies for the school.
“The most notable achievement being winning the M and H Under-17 trophy in 2012 as well as the national Under-20 trophy in 2013.
“In 2013 and 2014 we managed to represent Harare Province at the Under-16 Copa Coca-Cola.
“He was a soft-spoken young man who was very eager to learn,” Mhundwa said.
Zvavanhu’s former coach at Dynamos, David Mandigora, expressed shock over the sudden death of the ex-footballer.
“I worked with him for close to three years and he started as a striker before we transformed him to a right back.
“He was part of the team that reached the semi-finals of the Champions League and a very good young man.
“He was helping Dynamos even after he had left as our juniors were training at Churchill were he was now working.
“We have lost a hard working young man who did a lot for local soccer,” Mandigora said.
Another coach who worked with Zvavanhu at Kiglon in 2009, Maxwell Takaendesa Jongwe, said he was shocked by the death of such a committed, hard working and dedicated player.
“He was a good guy who was committed, hard working and dedicated and I worked with him for a season and I used him as a central midfielder.
“He was one of the players who were committed and his death came as a shock to me,” said Jongwe.
ZIFA have also joined the football fraternity in mourning the death of Zvavanhu.
ZIFA president, Philip Chiyangwa expressed grief over this untimely loss.
“It is with consternation and great sadness that the Zimbabwe Football Association learnt of the passing of the legendary footballer, former Dynamos and Amazulu star Gift Zvavanhu,” Chiyangwa told the Association website.
“ZIFA is immensely hurt by the loss of such a talented footballer and coach who worked tenaciously for the beauty of the game.
“ZIFA is in mourning with his family, friends and the local football family as everyone grapples with the shocking loss.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the Zvavanhu family in this time of grief and we encourage them to seek comfort and solace in the Almighty.”
Zvavanhu is survived by his wife and three children and is expected to be buried at his rural home in Buhera today.