A symbol of defiance

Robson Sharuko Senior Sports Editor
IT’S been all gloomy in Harare as the capital’s football giants – Dynamos and CAPS United – stagger in the darkness cast by the platinum revolution shaking the domestic Premiership that has significantly altered the game’s landscape.

But a feel-good tale provided by a footballer from one of the capital’s two giants, who cheated death in a horror car crash and lost a part of his right arm has, somehow, found a way to return to competitive action, is charming the world.

Both Dynamos and CAPS United have collectively not won a match in their last six league games and find themselves trailing the two platinum sides – FC Platinum and Ngezi Platinum – who are setting the pace in the championship race from a distance.

The Glamour Boys, once the dominant force in domestic football, have slipped back into the mediocrity that has been trapping them for some time now and find themselves only three points above the line that separates those in relegation trouble and those in a safe category.

The Green Machine, who were playing Champions League football this time last year, going pound-for-pound with the likes of TP Mazembe and Zamalek, have lost the quality that used to power them back then.

They now find themselves adrift of the duo leading the race for the league championship in this country.

Attendance figures in the capital, when it comes to the domestic Premiership, have slumped sharply as more fans choose to stay at home rather than watch a show that has lost some of the glitter that used to be associated with these two giants when they were doing very well.

But, a ray of light has filtered through the dark cloud that has been hanging over the capital, when it comes to the domestic top-flight league, with the feel-good tale of a football star who defied the odds, and refused to be buried by fate, now having caught the attention of the globe.

When Hardlife Zvirekwi, the CAPS United captain who featured for the Warriors at the last Nations Cup finals in Gabon, was injured in a horror car crash in Harare in March, many were relieved he had somehow escaped with his life in an accident that could have had worse repercussions.

And when it was revealed he would have a part of his hand, which had suffered significant damage, amputated, there were many who believed he would not return to play football again.

However, Zvirekwi has defied those who believed his career was now over and, at the same time, he has charmed those who believe that the human spirit should always find a way to defy massive odds, by returning to competitive action again in the colours of his beloved Green Machine.

And his incredible story has now found itself even onto the pages of the BBC, who posted a story on their website yesterday under the headline, ‘’Zvirekwi hopes to inspire others following amputation of left hand”.

The story was written by Tarek Talaat, an Egyptian journalist who contributes for the news corporation.

“Zimbabwe defender Hardlife Zvirekwi says his strength of faith has helped his extraordinary return to professional football following the amputation of his left hand,” wrote Talaat in his piece for BBC Sport.

“The 31-year-old CAPS United captain underwent surgery in March after a serious crash when he lost control of his car in Harare.

“Zvirekwi returned to light training just a month after his operation and made his return for CAPS as a late substitute two weeks ago in a league match in Rufaro against Harare City.”

The story went viral around the world yesterday, carried by a number of news outlets across the globe, with Zvirekwi telling BBC Sport he had not even given up hope on returning to the national team.

“I am so grateful to the Almighty that he made it possible for me to play again,” Hardlife told BBC Sport.

“In life when you come across calamitous situations and circumstances, what makes you strong is deriving positive energy and have a lot of faith that something great is going to come out of this tragic situation.

“I was more than excited, the feeling was extraordinary. I gave all the glory to the Almighty for making the impossible very possible.

“I haven’t retired internationally as yet. The Almighty willing. I still want to break new ground again to represent my nation in my condition to inspire other people that the impossible can still be achievable if you are determined and hardworking.”

And there has been an outpouring of support for Zvirekwi from around the world with one of those who responded, Karl R Kroenen, jokingly saying the Zimbabwean was, “still better than Karius”, the under-fire Liverpool goalkeeper who has faced intense criticism after a number of howlers.

“Give him a round of applause,’’ responded Andrew Graham on Twitter, while Jacob Bourne said, “you’ve really got to hand it to the guy, fair play to him,” and Master Ramsden said, “so, he would have no hand ball with his left hand or should I call it left side, this is called turning challenges into stimulants to break through hard targets, with God, no one can never fail.”

Someone who used the name, EnterDaDragon, described it as, “inspiring . . . life is a journey . . . just enjoy the ride you’re not disabled but differently-abled.”

Zvirekwi has forced his way into the CAPS United starting XI now, although the Green Machine have now drawn the three matches that he has featured in.

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