Grace Chingoma Senior Sports Reporter
IF there is any regret for Khama Billiat’s father then it’s that his brother, Cheche, is not around to see the Zimbabwe international footballer setting the stage alight in the South African Premiership.
Cheche died 10 years ago.
Mustafa told The Saturday Herald this week that he was very close to his late brother and when Khama was still a young boy, the former CAPS United star played a big part in training him to be the footballer that he is today.
“Cheche was very close to Khama such that many people thought Khama was his son,” said Mustafa as he sat next to his wife Rosa at the family home in Mufakose.
“Cheche didn’t have a son, he had two daughters. I would always go with Khama to watch Cheche in action at Rufaro and Gwanzura.
“I am saddened that he is no more. It would have been good if he was still alive witnessing how our boy has grown up to be this good player.
“Football runs in the family and my father used to play for a team called Sables, but unfortunately we were still young and we don’t have much history on that.”
Mustafa fondly remembers how a young Khama, when he was still in Grade Two, caused a scene in town by refusing a pair of school shoes that he had bought for him, because he wanted football boots instead.
“He cried for soccer boots, he would just pester you when he wanted something to do with football and as a loving parent I just bought the boots, I remember it was a pair of yellow Adidas boots.
“I told him that was the last time I would go with him in town. I later bought him a Liverpool kit.”
And Rosa chips in.
“Khama just grew up loving his football. I would follow him playing soccer to order him to come home and have his porridge even before he was school-going age.
“He broke into the first team at Gwinyiro Primary School when he was still in Grade Three. He did Grade One at Marimba Primary and by then he had started showing a deep passion for the sport.
“When he moved to Gwinyiro, at first his teachers were reluctant to have him in the senior team whilst in Grade Three, but once they gave him a chance they saw his great talent and he became a permanent feature of the first eleven,” she said.
Word of the young sensation at Gwinyiro Primary went far and reached the ears of Marc Duvillard.
“People would praise him that he was winning games for the team at tournaments and news about him spread that there was a young sensation in Mufakose.
“By the time he reached Grade 5, we were approached by Duvillard’s manager from Lord Malvern who said Khama’s ability had come to Duvillard’s attention and Marc wanted to cater for all his school needs including school fees.
“At first we were sceptical and we said they should leave him until he reached secondary school.
“They came again and explained everything to us that Duvillard will do everything for the boy in terms of school uniforms, fees and books and then we agreed as we saw it as a benefit because maybe we were going to fail to pay for his fees and all.
“We entered into an agreement and signed a six-year contract with Duvillard.
“He was now responsible for everything and if I am not mistaken, he first went to Switzerland when he was in Grade Six. They would go for tournaments there.
“That is when we began to see some light. For Form One he went to Lord Malvern and again they went to Switzerland that year,” said Mustafa.
Khama’s father is forever grateful to Aces Academy.
Born at Mufakose Clinic on August 1990, Khama has two siblings, elder brother Valentine and younger sister Lisa.
His mother, a devout Christian, says she no longer goes to the stadium to watch her son playing, but only follows the action on television.
“He had this special way of scoring goals, chinyaride (scissors kick) and I once asked him why he is no longer scoring goals the way he used to long ago,” said Rosa.
“He tells me that when playing his football he sometimes doesn’t understand what would be happening to him when he is in action.
“But football runs in the family. They are talented though not every family member will play well.”
Khama’s ABSA Premiership matches are staple food in the Billiat family.
And his father goes the extra mile by recording all the matches featuring his son.
“He is a football fanatic and follows soccer a lot,” said Rosa.
“When Khama comes home his father shows him some of the mistakes he would have made and over the phone they also discuss.”
But his parents are not yet satisfied.
“We are sure he will do more than this. More Lord’s favour and grace will be thrust upon him. We are not yet satisfied as his parents.
“And he always tells us that before every game ‘mum, I think long and hard about the game, how best am I going to please my supporters today?’.”
His father said his son is comfortable playing with both legs.
“At Aces he used to play number nine. He is talented and comfortable with both feet so you can change him to play number 7, number 11 even number 8 he can play as well as 10.
“He is a game changer.”
His father sometimes goes to South Africa to watch his son play for Mamelodi Sundowns.
“When I saw that Khama has talent I closely monitored him. I have always been a strict parent and was very strict with him so that his talent could not go to waste,” he said.
His mother says his son is humble.
“He is loved by the people and the community. Whenever, he is here he pays attention to everyone and whenever we are driving with him he stops whenever people greet him and he says I can’t ignore them even if I don’t know them personally,” said Rosa.
Khama is married and has one child, a daughter Kimberly.
Khama’s parents will be cheering the Warriors when Zimbabwe battle Swaziland in back-to-back matches during Easter Holidays and they believe that, as long as the nation believes, the team will succeed.
They believe one day he will play in Europe.