Robson Sharuko Senior Sports Editor
KHAMA BILLIAT has joined the bandwagon of Zimbabwe international footballers who are using their privileged positions, as well-paid professional sports stars, to give back to communities back home.
Nyasha Mushekwi has already splashed US$120 000 on a brand new state-of-the-art bus for his former local club, CAPS United, for the Green Machine to use as their team bus.
Midfielder Marshall Munetsi took on board over 60 children under his wing in Mabvuku, where he grew up, and will pay school fees for all of them.
The project will be run under the fledgling Marshall Munetsi Foundation.
Billiat, the 29-year-old Kaizer Chiefs forward, yesterday announced the launch of the “Khama Billiat Foundation,’’ which he says will try to contribute to society by positively impacting on the lives that matter.
The announcement sent Twitter exploding with a number of people congratulating the football star for his initiative.
“Welcome to the Khama Billiat Foundation,’’ Billiat announced on Twitter. “Our vision is to contribute to society by positively impacting on the lives that matter.
“Our mission is to make our foundation a vehicle to changing the lives of the less unfortunate through sports tournaments, donations and fundraising.’’
Billiat has in the past been criticised, by some analysts, for his colourful lifestyle, which plays out on social media, where he is accused of having a taste of life’s fine tastes, including investing in some of the most expensive vehicles around.
The same people, without giving him a chance to defend himself or to clear the air, said they would rather see him investing in such things like property. However, the latest initiative by one of the Zimbabwe’s best footballers at the moment, whose superb goal helped the country avoid the ignominy of crashing out of the 2022 World Cup qualifiers at the preliminary stage at the hands of Somalia, is set to change all that.
It shows Billiat has a heart, to help the less fortunate members of society, and he is prepared to make a difference in their lives through a number of initiatives.
Scores of people took to Twitter yesterday to congratulate Billiat for the move with one company even offering to partner the foundation.
“We are IsaDi, a proudly African owned sports brand. We would love to get on board by aligning ourselves with your programme to supply and sponsor kits and off-field apparel,’’ the company said.
“We 100% black youth owned sports brand. Proudly For Africa By Africans.’’
Recently, Billiat’s Warriors teammate, Munetsi, revealed that the tough ghetto life during his youth taught him some priceless lessons about love and giving back to the less privileged members of society.
Munetsi moved from the South African Premiership into the French Ligue 1 at the start of the season and has been running the foundation with the assistance of his close friend Munya Wayne Tembo, who does all the work on the ground.
“Growing up in Avondale and Mabvuku helped me realise a lot of things and how hard it is, especially living in the ghetto where there are less privileged people,’’ Munetsi told The Herald.
“It’s a challenge for kids to get a better education when they can’t go to school because of (lack of) finances. So, the idea has always been there, but I was waiting for the right time to start it.
“I’m glad it has been possible with the help of a friend and a brother Munya Tembo.”
The foundation paid school fees for 30 primary school children in Mabvuku before they spread their wings by adding 30 more pupils from his former school — Donnybrook Primary School.
“It’s always good to see the kids happy and to see people in my own community happy as they saw me grow to be the person I am today with help from most of them,’’ said Munetsi.
“As a Christian, I was taught in the Bible that the greatest thing we can use as children of God is love and to love one another, to share whatever we have and in love.
“So, my motivation is love, it needs to be shared to everyone regardless of who they are and where they come from.
“I feel the need to empower kids to choose the course of their lives and future from a point of strength, not desperation.
“Education is key to everything we do in life, and when you are educated, there are greater chances you will have a better life and it helps you to make the best decisions in life.
“The foundation is something that is going to grow big by God’s Grace to different aspects and those will be seen in the future once everything is done.’’
Mushekwi, who played alongside Munetsi and Billiat for the Warriors at the 2019 AFCON finals, set the ball rolling when he announced the assembling of the US$120 000 specially-customised 45-seater passenger bus, which he bought for his old club CAPS United, had now been completed.
He said the luxury coach was now expected to be delivered to the Green Machine once its branding had been completed in South Africa.
The Zimbabwe international striker, who turned 32 last month, acquired the luxury bus as a token of appreciation for the role CAPS United played in his career as a professional footballer. The acquisition of the bus came exactly 10 years to the year Mushekwi left the Green Machine.