Eddie Chikamhi Senior Sports Reporter—
JAWETT George Nechironga, a member of the trailblazing St Paul’s Musami of the ’60s — the only football club from outside Harare and Bulawayo to be crowned champions of the domestic top-flight football league — has died.Nechironga, who was set to turn 77 on July 15, passed away at Parirenyatwa Hospital on Thursday evening after having been taken ill earlier in the day. Mourners are gathered at house number 1135 Glen Norah A, Harare. Nechironga had been on treatment for diabetes for the past 15 years.
At the time of his death, he was a music teacher at St Peter’s Kubatana in Highfield, a position he held since 1974. He is survived by five children and 11 grandchildren.
His wife, Constance, died two years ago.
One of his daughters, Georgina Mubvumbi, said funeral arrangements are still to be formalised.
“My father was a known diabetic patient for many years. He has been taking his medication, but then the situation just deteriorated yesterday (Thursday) when he complained of constipation.
“But he was a strong man, he even attended a school meeting the day before, and we were shocked it came to this. “Funeral arrangements are still to take shape because we are still waiting for our two siblings, Francis and Adeline, who are coming from the UK.”
Jawett was the root of the Nechironga football dynasty which was popularised by his sons, Francis and George (Jnr), who were also top-notch players of their era.
Francis — who is now based in the United Kingdom — played for CAPS United, Rio Dairibord and Arcadia United while 1990 joint Soccer Star of the Year George (Jnr) made his name at CAPS United and the now-defunct Darryn T before moving to Poland and South Africa where he featured for Bloemfontein Celtic, Santos, Free State Stars and African Wanderers.
Hailing from an unfortunate background where he lost both his parents, Jawett Nechironga started playing his football as a 14-year-old at Matanda Government School in Mutare, where he was groomed by his trainer John Mutepfa.
From Matanda, he joined St Paul’s Musami in 1957, as a student and later as a teacher.
In 1960, St Paul’s Musami joined the then Southern Rhodesia National Football League playing in the Second Division.
They were promoted to the First Division three years later.
Jawett Nechironga announced his arrival as one of the rare breed of star players of pre-independent Zimbabwe when he helped St Paul’s Musami gain promotion into the Premiership and winning the league title in their first year of top-flight football in 1966.
His career was inspired by his coach — Father Davis — who mentored him as a student and footballer before taking up a teaching career at the Murehwa-based institution.
Among his teammates at St Paul’s Musami between 1964 and 1966 were Francis Tsatsa, Lewis Kalonga, Abel Chinyani, Felix Mbidzo, John Madondo and Roy Cook; and were later joined by the legendary George “Mastermind” Shaya.
During the same period, the team also toured Malawi and Mozambique.
Nechironga, who is widely considered one of the finest footballers to emerge from this country, was a very big name in that team.
Despite their humble rural background, St Paul’s Musami won the BAT Cup in 1967 when they thumped Mashonaland United (Chiwororo) 4-1 with newboy Shaya playing a starring role.
Jawett Nechironga had developed a deep affection for St Paul’s and its environs, but he had to move on in 1969, when he was transferred to teach at Chishawasha Primary School.
He was later forced to take his football profession to Harare where he became one of the pioneers of Chibuku Shumba (later Black Aces), which was formed from the ashes of Tornadoes.
Among players with whom Jawett Nechironga pioneered the first Chibuku Shumba team were legend Peter “Thunderboots” Nyama, John “Seke Muchena” Humphreys, Webster Chirumiko, John Madondo, Sisson Mukwena, Topsy Robertson, Billy Sharman, Kizito Tembo, Nicholas “Zoom’’ Rambayi and Twyman Ncube.
The team was coached by Ken Fulton.
Jawett Nechironga turned out for Chibuku Shumba through their glorious days of the 70s, when they won both the Chibuku and BAT trophies.
The late winger finally hung up his boots in 1974, aged 34, to concentrate full-time on his teaching career.
The players he admired in his heydays were George Shaya, Topsy Robertson, Peter Nyama, Gibson Homela, John Madondo, George Kondowe, Tendai Chieza and Freddie Mkwesha.
His two sons, Francis and George (Jnr), would take up from him and made waves playing for some of the big teams in the new Zimbabwe. “There is nothing at all difficult in football,’’ he told our sister newspaper The Sunday Mail in an interview.
“You just need to play with your whole heart and give everything that you can give to the team.
“In our days we just loved to play soccer and we did not play for incentives.’’ He also felt that former football stars should always have a role to play in the administration of the game in the country.