At least, The Dude is still around, 25 years later, still fighting, still smiling, still hoping

27 Feb, 2021 - 00:02 0 Views
At least, The Dude is still around, 25 years later, still fighting, still smiling, still hoping CLASS OF ‘96. . . Steve Kwashi’s CAPS United super team of ‘96 featured the likes of (clockwise, from left) Stewart Murisa, Frank Nyamukuta, Alois Bunjira, Mphumelelo Dzowa, Farai Mbidzo, Joe Mugabe and Cheche Cheche Billiat, seen here watching a league match at Gwanzura.

The Herald

Sharuko On Saturday

TWENTY five years, they call it the Silver Jubilee, a quarter-of-a-century, it’s quite a landmark milestone.

Ebenezer, this is how far the Lord has taken us, since 1996, the year ‘Dolly The Sheep,’ the first mammal to be successfully cloned from an adult cell, was born in Scotland.

The year when Motorola introduced the world’s first clamshell mobile phone, the StarTAC, and the year rapper Tupac Shakur was shot dead in Las Vegas.

It’s the year when Tino Kadewere, Marco Asensio, Lucas Torreira, Timo Werner, Dele Alli, Julian Brandt, Alex Iwobi, Davinson Sanchez and Kingsley Coman were born.

The year Nigeria became the first African country to win gold in football at the Olympics in what represented a monumental triumph for the game on the continent, in Atlanta.

For a German driving ace, who would go on to build an excellent profile as one of the greatest drivers of all-time, it was the year he made his move, which would transform an iconic Formula One franchise.

And, for a Zimbabwean coach, born in the year the Germans won the World Cup, for the first time, it was the year he waved his magic, and transformed an iconic domestic football franchise.

Somehow, the lives of Steve Kwashi and Michael Schumacher have, in an obscure way, been intertwined.

In 1996, Kwashi was handed the monumental challenge to try and guide CAPS United to the league championship the elusive and grand prize which the Green Machine had last won in 1979.

Known as “The Dude,’’ Kwashi, a laid-back character with a passion for life, an obsession with high-metal attacking football and a weakness for the values of entertaining football, duly delivered.

He assembled a super team, a fusion of battle-hardened locals like Joe Mugabe and Silver Chigwenje, who provided the Green Machine institutional memory, and imports from the Darryn T factory like Stewart Murisa and Alois Bunjira, who brought the ambition.

Having been denied in crucial fashion, the previous year, when Blackpool went toe-to-toe with the beast called Dynamos, only to be beaten by goal difference, their hunger for success was written all over their faces.

Whereas at Ndochi they had represented some colourful, and carefree newsboys, driven by the boyish dreams of taking down the establishment, now, they were on the payroll of one of the real giants of domestic football.

For Shutto, this was more than just a quest for success, after all, he was now playing for a club, whose age was a mirror of himself, with both the player, and the team, having come into existence in the same year, 1973.

And, for Kwashi, this was a mission to finally count himself, among the big boys, joining the exclusive club of coaches, who had guided one of the Big Three clubs, to the league championship.

Five years earlier, in 1991, he had taken Black Aces into the Premiership, guiding them to success in Division One before Peter Nyama took over, once the club was in the top-flight, to lead Shaisa Mufaro to the title, in 1992.

After their documented failure, throughout the 1980s, watching from a distance as bitter rivals won seven championships, including four on the trot, in 10 seasons, the Green Machine were desperate to end that lengthy wait.

In Kwashi, they believed they had found their man, someone who shared the philosophy of the late club chairman, Shepherd Bwanya, of suffocating the opponents, with relentless attacking football.

And by the end of the season, it all came to pass.

Not even the Glamour Boys of Tauya Murewa, Memory Mucherahowa and Kaitano Tembo, a strong side that won the championship in ’94, ’95 and ’97, and provided the foundation for that Champions League match in ’98, could stop them.

It was also in 1996, when Schumacher arrived at Ferrari, with the challenge to t power the iconic Italian franchise to glory and, just like Makepekepe, their last world championship had come in 1979.

South African driver, Jody Scheckter, had been the last Ferrari driver to win the world drivers’ championship, in ’79, the same year he also led his team to their last Constructors’ championship.

To understand why such a lengthy barren spell, for Ferrari, mattered, one has to first appreciate what Ferrari means to Formula One racing.

Nicknamed “The Prancing Horse,” which comes from their logo, Ferrari are the heart and soul of Formula One — they are the oldest surviving and most successful team.

They have competed in every world championship, since the inaugural 1950 Formula One season, at Monaco, and had, until their lengthy barren spell, won the Constructors Championship in 1961, 1964, 1975, 1976 and 1979.

And, well, Schumacher changed all that and became the team’s most successful driver, winning five consecutive drivers’ titles, between 2000 and 2004, and 72 Grands Prix, with Ferrari enjoying their most successful period, with a number of constructors’ titles.

Schumacher, a football-loving driver, had won a record seven World Drivers’ Championship titles, by the time he retired in 2012, held the records for the most wins (91), the most pole positions (68), the most podium finishes (155), the most fastest laps (77) and the most races won in a single season (13).

 

THE SILVER JUBILEE PARTY THAT NEVER WAS, FOR SCHUMI, FOR STEVIE

 

Everything being normal, we should have been hosting a grand Silver Jubilee party for Schumi and Stevie, this year, celebrating their landmark achievements, which helped transform both Ferrari and CAPS United.

But, the reality is that we won’t do that.

Because, for both of them, it’s not about toasting their achievements, defined by their moves 25 years ago, with food and drinks, which really matter.

Instead, it’s about sparing a thought for them, for what they have gone through, in recent years, since fate dealt them a heavy blow, and changed their lives forever, which really matters.

For Stevie, this coming month, which starts on Monday, marks 20 years since the car crash, in March 2001, cut short his successful coaching career, at the age of 47.

In a week, in which the world has been struggling to deal with Tiger Woods’ horror accident, in Los Angeles, which required surgery on his legs, it’s easy to forget that, 20 years ago, Kwashi’s life changed, forever, in similar circumstances.

That horrific crash left Kwashi in a coma, for close to seven months, of which the difference between life, and death, was so thin, the ordeal inflicted emotional scars, within his family, which will last throughout their lives.

And, when he finally emerged from the coma, Kwashi had suffered so much damage, he could barely walk, struggled for speech and was someone who now relied, entirely, on the support of his family, for everything.

In just an instant, his life had been shattered, in the line of duty, as he returned home, after guiding his beloved CAPS United, in a league match in Hwange.

He was just 47, at the time of the accident, at the very peak of his years, as a football coach, with so much more still to give, to his club and his country, which he had served well, as coach of the Young Warriors.

Now, just for a moment, imagine the career of Thomas Tuchel, the Chelsea coach, being brought to an end today?

Because, just like Kwashi in 2001, when that horror accident ended his coaching career and transformed him from being a man, who took care of his family into one, who now depended on the care of the same family, just to make it another day.

Tuchel is hailed as one of the best young coaches around, touted as a possible future coach of the Germany national team, someone with so much to give, and so much to earn, to this game.

That’s just about the position Kwashi found himself in, when that horror accident happened 20 years ago, after all, back then, he was the only coach who had found a way to guide CAPS United, to the league championship, since Independence.

Just imagine the coaching career of Brendan Rogers, who only turned 48 last month, being brought to an end today, by circumstances that will leave him, forever, dependent on his family, just to do simple things like walking, eating and even bathing?

Imagine the careers of American singer, Pharrell Williams, rapper Nas, Robbie Williams and even Akon, who are all 47 years old, being brought to an end today, by circumstances, which will them, forever, dependent on their families, to move from one place to another, to eat and even to retreat to bed?

What about the career of supermodel Heidi Klum, the television host, producer and businesswoman, just being brought to an end today, at the age of 47, leaving her to, forever, depend on her family, just to try and move around the house, clean her teeth or change her clothes?

If such a possibility is just too grim for you to just imagine, as a fan, what about those who are the close family members of these stars and have, in one way or another, depended on these stars for their living?

Well, if that makes you feel sick, then spare a thought for Kwashi’s family, and everything they have gone through, in the past 20 years, in which they have had to carry the punishing weight of the challenge, of taking care of their beloved father?

 

“My father was an active sportsman. That has been his life and apart from that there was nothing else,’’ his daughter, Shungu, told this newspaper in 2013.

“He could still be involved in such things but, with his condition, it’s no longer possible. So, how do you help such people? His life now is quite a monotonous one.

“He wakes up in the morning every day, does a 40-minute walk and comes back home and there is nothing more to do for the rest of the day.

“My mother has been taking care of him all the time but she also has other work to do. I realise that they are many people in similar conditions and I looked around Harare to see if there is any place to take care of victims of such circumstances and found none.’’

 

EVERY WORD SHUNGU UTTERED, SPEAKING ABOUT HER FATHER, BROUGHT TEARS INTO THE EYE

 

Just like Kwashi, Schumacher was also a passionate football fan, occasionally taking time off his busy schedule, to play in charity matches, around the globe, to raise money for the underprivileged members of our society.

Now, and again, during the off-season, he would play for his local Division Five side, in Switzerland, where the German driver and his family live in a four-storey complex, named Villa La Reserve, on the shores of Lake Geneva, overlooking the Swiss Alps.

At the turn of the millennium, after German won the rights to host the 2006 World Cup, Schumacher addressed his passionate love for football, in an interview with the FIFA Magazine.

“Most likely, it can be traced back to Toni Schumacher and Pierre Littbarski, two former German internationals,’’ he said when asked about where his love, for the beautiful game, came from.

“When I was a boy, they were the two most outstanding players for me. They were both with 1. FC Cologne, the club that I supported.

“And, like every other young boy, I played myself as well; I was not as good as I would have liked to be, but I enjoyed playing all the same.’’

 

Thirteen years later, on December 29, 2013, the seven-time World Champion suffered severe brain injuries, after falling, and hitting a rock with his head, while skiing with his son, Mick, in the French Alps.

Four months later, he was brought out of a medically-induced coma but, by September 2016, he was still unable to walk or even speak.

His family have been bearing the challenge of taking care of him, as he continues his recovery at his home in Switzerland,

Last month, Schumacher turned 52, just four months after a leading neurosurgeon,

Professor Erich Riederer, claimed the superstar athlete was in a vegetative state, with little chance of ever fully recovering.

 

“I think he’s in a vegetative state, which means he’s awake but not responding,’’ Riederer said in a commentary on a documentary on French television station TMC.

“He is breathing, his heart is beating, he can probably sit up and take baby steps with help, but no more. I think that’s the maximum for him. Is there any chance of seeing him like he was before his accident? I really don’t think so.”

Every word that he spoke, it was like he was singing from Shungu’s gospel, seven years earlier, which drew tears from those who listened to her, as she narrated her brave father’s ordeal.

“These people, normally, would have gone through rehabilitation, after the trauma which would have caused their disability,’’ she said.

“For those, whose disability is severe, this results in adverse life changes for the person, that is social isolation, medical retirement from work, decreased functional ability, and unstructured time loss of self-esteem.’’

The burden on the family is huge but, to their eternal credit, the Kwashis have refused to be crushed by the challenge, which they have been dealing with, for two decades now.

In doing so, they have given The Dude, a fighting chance, to be still alive, 20 years after the accident that changed his life, forever.

They deserve our praise, our thoughts and even our prayers because, unlike us who appear to only have loved The Dude, when everything was well, they have shown us he can also be loved, in his current state.

At least, he is still around, 25 years later, to be spoken of, in the present tense, when we remember what his record-breaking CAPS United did, in the past tense.

 

To God Be The Glory!

Peace to the GEPA Chief, the Big Fish, George Norton, Daily Service and all the Chakariboys in the struggle.

Come on Warriors!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Khamaldinhoooooooooooooooooo!

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