Editorial Comment: Mhofu’s Covid-19 initiative deserves our support Sunday Chidzambwa

SUNDAY CHIDZAMBWA is an iconic figure in Zimbabwean football — the first man to captain the Warriors at Independence, the first coach to guide the team to the AFCON finals and the only gaffer to take a local club to the final of a CAF inter-club competition.

In 1998, the man affectionately known as Mhofu, guided his Dynamos team, against all odds, to the final of the CAF Champions League where their quest to become champions of African football ended in controversial fashion in Abidjan when they lost 2-4 to Ivorian side ASEC Mimosas.

Deprived of the services of their influential captain Memory Mucherahowa, who was rushed to hospital after being head-butted by an opponent in the warm-up sessions, meant the Glamour Boys were always up against it in that decisive second leg of the final.

Despite that heartbreaking ending to the campaign, Chidzambwa found a way to recharge his batteries and, just five years later, ended his country’s lengthy 23-year wait to play at the AFCON finals.

And, last year, he became the first coach to lead the Warriors to two Nations Cup finals.

The 68-year-old has transformed himself into the father figure of the country’s biggest sporting discipline, its benchmark, in terms of success, and although he announced his retirement from coaching teams, he said he would remain available for consultancy services.

Despite taking a back seat, in terms of involvement in the daily challenges that come with coaching football clubs or national teams, Chidzambwa feels he should always try and play a role whenever he believes his mere presence could make a difference when it comes national issues.

That is why he has, like a true patriot, availed himself to try and use his influence to raise funds in the national fight against Covid-19.

Chidzambwa has organised a pitch walk, at Raylton Sports Club in Harare next Wednesday, where he will walk 50 times the length of the pitch of the stadium, to try and raise funds for frontline workers involved in the fight against coronavirus in the country.

It might appear a simple exercise, for some, but the reality is that Chidzambwa will be walking about five kilometres on that day and, for a man who has struggled to walk since suffering a career-ending injury in 1983, this is as huge a test for the coach as any he has faced.

A heavy clash with the then Rio Tinto talisman, Joseph Zulu, in a league match in Kadoma in 1983, left Chidzambwa with a broken leg and brought his stellar career to a premature end at the age of 30.

By his own admission, Chidzambwa says he has never walked that far, since that day when injury ended his career, but he wants to do it to try and help his country tame the Covid-19 pandemic.

Former players, such as David Mandigora, Stewart Murisa and David Maketo Sengu, are some of the people involved in organising the event together with Aces Academy director Nigel Munyati and Solomon Chingono.

They have also roped in Zimbabwe Team UK chief executive Marshal Gore, who is now the Diaspora coordinator working with event coordinator Martin Changachirere, with the mandate to try and bring together the country’s football community dotted around the world.

Many of those former players were either coached by Chidzambwa, at different stages of their careers, or they turned to the veteran gaffer, for advice when they faced challenges.

This means players like Peter Ndlovu, Benjani Mwaruwari, Knowledge Musona, Khama Billiat, Marvelous Nakamba, Teenage Hadebe, Memory Mucherahowa, Joe Mugabe, to name but just a few, are also expected to play a part in the fund-raising initiative.

“Football is my life and I believe that I can make a difference,’’ Chidzambwa said.

“The whole idea is to raise money and, if I had lots of money, I would have donated to the cause.

“But, the reality is that I don’t have such kind of money and I can only appeal to those who want to help to come on board.’’

What is key here is that a prominent sports personality in this country has seen it fit to not just sit, and wait for the Government to fight the Covid-19 pandemic, but has taken it upon himself to play a big part in assisting in this tough battle.

Sports personalities like Chidzambwa carry a certain weight in terms of both appeal and influence, and when they are seen to be pulling in the same direction as the authorities, it has a special way of galvanising the entire nation to also play its part.

That’s why Mhofu’s initiative deserves a lot of support, not only from his former players and colleagues, but also from the corporate world in this country.

This is the man who has done a lot for his country, breaking all the records in football and, even at the age of 68 and walking using a broken leg, he still wants to help his nation to try and tame the Covid-19 pandemic.

It can’t get better than that.

He says his initiative is to raise money to buy protective equipment for those frontline health workers in the remote parts of the country and that is as noble an exercise as any which a sports star can ever come up with.

We fully support Mhofu’s initiative and we urge many to rally behind him and ensure that a lot of funds will be raised on Wednesday.

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