From a village hustler to Ngezi Platinum’s ‘Lukaku’ TINOTENDA Murasiranwa

Tadious Manyepo-Sports Reporter

TINOTENDA Murasiranwa is a village hustler. He is one of the most popular hunters in Chivakanenyama, Hurungwe.

A master of piece jobs in the area as well.

He does everything heartily.

It’s in him. This hot February 2020 afternoon, he is meticulously examining his tobacco crop. It’s at the harvesting stage and he is doing the mathematics, too.

He should make a kill. The boy has just turned 17 and waiting for his Ordinary Level ZIMSEC results. Yet he is already a veteran of some sort in tobacco farming.

This is a venture he has entered not by design. His mother Farirai Mubaiwa has been a maid in Harare, all her life.

Throughout Murasiranwa’s primary school, she has paid the tuition. But secondary education is a different kettle of fish. Together with his only sibling Joseph, the two have to man up. They are under the custody of their ageing maternal grandparents.

 After considerations, they pick tobacco farming as the only saviour for their education.  

Upon completing his Ordinary Levels, Joseph migrates to Zvishavane where he finds a job. And Murasiranwa is still considering his future. He has been a star sprinter in Mashonaland West.  He has severally represented the province at national level. With distinction too.

 But somehow, no professional club or academy has come knocking at his door.

 This is how Zimbabwe lose sporting talent by the way.  The boy has resorted to what most of the boys his age normally do.

 Social football.  It doesn’t matter at the end of the day that football has never been his first love or that this is a game his mother hates the most.  With a passion. Right in the middle of the field tour, he receives a text message.

 Rather a queer one.

 “Dress up, board a bus straight to Harare, tomorrow you should attend a football trial in Chegutu for a club called Ngezi Platinum,” read the message that Murasiranwa has kept up to now.

 He doesn’t have any football boots. Neither does he have a decent kit.  He has never been to Harare too.  “I immediately prepared not sure how I was going travel. I had some money on me and I called my mother,” Murasiranwa said.

“She just said I should drop off at a place called Market Square in Harare…”

 But what had come across her mother’s mind to such an extent that she could invite her son whom she didn’t want to see playing football all along?

 “Tino (Murasiranwa) was not that good academically,” she said.  “My fear was that the more he stayed in the village the more he would be tempted to engage in socially detrimental activities like drug abuse and ultimately he would m arry early and destroy his future.

 “He was a well-known athlete but nothing had come out of it.

 “So I heard he was now playing football and he was decent in the game. So it happened that one day, when I was scrolling my phone, I came across a poster calling for prospective footballers to attend trials for Ngezi Platinum in Chegutu.

 “I don’t even know why I thought Tino would foot the bill. I just texted him and in no time he was on the bus coming to Harare.

 “He didn’t have the kit. I am a maid by the way, so I told my employer about my plight. Somehow, he was also playing social football and he gave Tino his kit. We went to Chegutu the day that followed and the rest is history”.

 After making the grade in this initial audition, Murasiranwa would eventually be selected in the final trial at Baobab in Ngezi.

 This time, even his mother’s employer’s family attended.

 “I struggle to recall how everything really unfolded. It’s a script that was probably written somewhere, I don’t know,” Murasiranwa said.

 Veteran coach Rodwell Dhlakama who was in charge of the Mhondoro team said the sheer determination that Murasiranwa, who is nicknamed “Lukaku” stood out.

 “He (Murasiranwa) had the ambition, the hunger and the potential. We just had to take him for that,” said Dhlakama.

 Of course, Dhlakama would leave Ngezi Platinum and Murasiranwa was deployed in the Ngezi Platinum Stars developmental side.

 However, he also impressed Dhlakama’s successor Benjani Mwaruwaru who quickly facilitated his registration in the senior team.

He has never looked back since then.

Murasiranwa is now the Ngezi Platinum Stars chief striker and has netted three goals this season.

Strikingly, he has refused to miss himself.

For him, village life is still the best.

 “Whenever we are not at work, I am always in the village. Sometimes we go hunting with my friends as we have always done. At times I am at the football grounds watching youngsters at my former social football team Cellular FC,” said Murasiranwa.

 “I will only start to live in a town after I secure my own place. But first, I will have to buy my mother a house”.

 Back in Chivakanenyama, Murasiranwa has also become a philanthropist.

 He knows what his kith and kin lack.

 One of his childhood friends and Cellular F. player, Prince Munetsi (24), told The Herald that Murasiranwa is still an easy going mate he used to be despite his changed social status.

 “I can tell you, Tino (Murasiranwa) has built a nice house for himself in the village and everyone feels it’s their right to safeguard the property as he is loved a lot,” said Munetsi.

 “I am one of his closest friends. He is a humble boy and everyone in this area envy him”.

 Cellular FC coach Edmore Vheremu who convinced Murasiranwa to play social football said the Ngezi Platinum striker is now impacting lives in Hurungwe.

 “For your own information, Tino didn’t like to play social football in the first place. He liked hunting a lot. But one day, I went to his homestead and convinced him to join us as we were going for a tournament. That’s how he started,” said Vheremu.

 “I tell you every youngster wants to play for Cellular FC right now. Murasiranwa has bought kits and football boots for a lot of youngsters around this place.

“During Covid-19 era, he also used to buy groceries for our players and some parents.

“He is an inspiration and whenever he is back home, he always tells the boys that hard work and discipline are the keys to success. In a way, he has helped the youth to shun drug abuse and other social ills”.

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