Eddie Chikamhi Sports Reporter
A sombre atmosphere engulfed Motor Action Sports Club yesterday as the body of former club director Eric Rosen made its final appearance before it was taken to Greendale Cemetery for burial.
Rosen, who succumbed to a heart attack last Sunday at Trauma Centre Borrowdale, was yesterday given a rousing send-off as scores of people from the sports fraternity braved the showers to attend his funeral service and burial.
The late administrator left a huge legacy and will be remembered mainly for his investments into Motor Action and the way he turned the club into one of the most colourful teams in the Premiership.
Several speakers at the funeral mass were unanimous that the football community had lost a pillar of strength and a champion of sport investment.
Salim Milanzi, one of the longest-serving members of the Motor Action team, gave a moving tribute and chronicled how the late businessman virtually adopted most of the youngsters at the Mighty Bulls and gave them a life through football.
“He was a fatherly figure. But with Rosen you always didn’t get what you ask for, he was the kind of man who would give you the hoe so that you can plough for yourself.
“He was firm in his word. He sent most of the guys to school and he even employed the others guys when their playing careers were over. Such was Rosen.
“I think he did his part. He helped us improve our lives and I think it’s now up to us to carry over the burden. This man had his family but he chose to look after other peoples’ families as well.
“If you had to sit down with him, he could tell you the budget of the year and you could see he was gaining nothing out of it, but giving away.
“The guy was a champion. He really wanted his team to excel. He had a vision which was beyond what most of us thought.
“Every time he was hungry for success until we won the championship in 2010,” said Milanzi.
A number of ex-Motor Action players attended the burial.
Among them was Gilbert Mushangazhike, Clement Matawu, Marlon Jani, Alan Johnson, Allan Gahadzikwa, Masimba Mambare, Edward Tembo, Lovemore Maphuya, and Misheck Mburayi.
They were joined by football administrators, coaches and players from the Premiership and lower divisions also came to bid farewell to one of the most dedicated servants of domestic football.
Deputy Minister of Women’s Affairs, Gender and Community Development Abigail Damasane was one of the high-ranking Government officials at the funeral.
Current and former football administrators like Kenny Ndebele, Jonathan Mashingaidze, Wellington Nyatanga, Chris Sambo, Kenny Mubaiwa, Charles Nhemachena, Ben Gwarada, and the ZIFA board members led by vice-president Omega Sibanda, Edzai Kasinauyo, Piraishe Mabhena and Philemon Machana also attended the ceremony.
Others like Gibson Homela, Barry Dhaka, Eddy Chivero, Ernest Sibanda and Agent Sawu travelled from Bulawayo to pay their last respects.
ZIFA vice-president Sibanda suggested that the late football administrator should be one of the inductees in the association’s Hall of Fame, which could be established during the current board’s tenure.
It was sad Rosen could not live long enough to see off his plans to establish a football academy, which is now expected to be championed by his wife Elizabeth, a co-director at the club.
“The works of this great son of Zimbabwe deserve to be written in bold letters in the history books of Zimbabwean football. Never to be deterred by natural and man-made vicissitudes, Eric would always pursue his goal to its finality.
“Eric Rosen invested a lot into football’s growth and we should decorate our heroes appropriately. The Hall of Fame of Zimbabwe Football is going to be built any day during the tenure of the ZIFA leadership.
“The Zimbabwe Football Hall of Fame will house the association’s rich history and we should salute all who came before us and made our game beautiful, like Eric Rosen,” said Sibanda.
PSL chief executive Ndebele said Zimbabwe lost a football person. He said the league, where he once served on the board of governors, is still enjoying the fruits of his contributions.
“At PSL, Eric played a key role in shaping the league from where it was to a point where it got a number of sponsors.
“He was crucial in the conclusion of the partnership between PSL and SuperSport International and coincidentally one of the first games that were beamed live involved Motor Action and Dynamos, it was a Cup final,” said Ndebele.
Rosen’s journey with Motor Action started in 2000 when he acquired the franchise of Blackpool.
Former Blackpool directors — Ronnie Chihota, Ben Muchedzi and Joe “Pajero” Musenda — also attended the burial.
The club had the privilege to play in the Champions League in 2011 under Joey Antipas and the following year they were in Africa again representing Zimbabwe in the CAF Confederation Cup.
The Bulls also won the BancABC Sup8r Cup in 2011 but were relegated in 2013 amid severe financial challenges which led to the club’s collapse the following year.
Rosen is survived by his wife Liz, three children and four grandchildren.