How ‘Mablanyo’ saved Devon Chafa’s career

28 Jan, 2023 - 00:01 0 Views
How ‘Mablanyo’ saved Devon Chafa’s career FAMILY AFFAIR . . . CAPS United midfielder Devon Chafa (left) poses with his mother Hellen at their home in Harare.

The Herald

Tadious Manyepo-Sports Reporter

IT’S a tug-of-war.

A fierce one.

Devon Chafa’s footballing future is on the line.

His parents, father Addington and mother Hellen (nee Chigowe-Makuzva) are pulling in one direction.

They are determined to stop their son from pursuing the game.

They are right. In a way.

Their son is academically gifted. They would rather let him take that path.

Especially after scoring high grades at Ordinary Level.

But at the opposite end stands a distinguished and decorated junior football development guru.

Lloyd “Mablanyo” Chigowe.

He is a blood brother to Chafa’s mother.

He is not entirely against his sister and brother-in-law’s stance.

Chigowe knows both sides of the coin — academics and football. Really well.

He wants Chafa to pursue both.

In equal measure.

Significantly, he is aware of the potential Chafa possesses in football.

He has been drilling him since he was just 10.

Chafa stands aloof. But he knows exactly what he wants to become. A footballer. Of course.

He knows his academic potential well, but it’s the beautiful game that is closer to his heart.

He has even become rebellious. But no one has noticed.

Not least until he progresses to Cranborne Boys High for Advanced Level.

He sees that as a mere waste of time.

Then he quits. Sensationally.

He doesn’t go to his parents’ house in Mbare. For obvious reasons.

Instead, he finds refuge at Chigowe’s place in Highfield.

It’s a bit delicate for “Mablanyo’’. A hot potato. But he has to handle that. To Chafa, he is not just a junior football coach but a parent, too.

“I wanted him to pursue both academics and football, but the latter became his prime obsession,” said Chigowe. 

“His mother is my elder sister; she is the first born and me being the second in our family. We grew up in Muchirahondo Street in National, Mbare. In fact, we stayed in the same neighbourhood with The Herald Sports Editor, Collin Matiza, who I also coached and groomed together with the likes of Boniface ‘Achimwene’ Kabwe and Alex ‘Chola’ Chasweka when they were junior players in the early and mid-1980s.

During that period, Chigowe is also credited for grooming the likes of Chamu Musanhu, Misheck “Shava’’ Mapika, Gilbert “Gidza’’ Mushangazhike, Innocent “Mbazo’’ Musapenda, Tichaona Diya, Garikayi Mukangairwa, Hope Chihota, Mike Maringa and Ernest Masango-Chigama who all went on to make a name for themselves in the local Premiership.

“As a youth coach at Dynamos, Black Aces, Rufaro Rovers and a seniors’ coach when we formed Douglas Warriors, Country Rain and in my entire football journey, he (Chafa) was always following me,’’ Chigowe said.

“He was a natural talent (and he is still), given it’s always difficult to coach your own.

“l enrolled him and his elder brother Desmond (a defender who played up to First Division) with Black Aces Juniors.

“He immediately made an impact playing as an attacking midfielder just like his current CAPS United coach Lloyd Chitembwe used to do at Cone Textiles Juniors. 

“In fact, Chafa played more like the legendary Dynamos Number 10, Daniel “Dhidhidhi” Ncube, in that role and that’s how he became to be nicknamed ‘Dhidhidhi’.

“But, trouble would brew as my sister Hellen (Chafa’s mother) preferred he concentrates on his academics since he was also intelligent.

“But I got the edge with her grudgingly acceding. 

“Mukuwasha haaipikisana natezvara (Culturally, my brother-in-law wouldn’t oppose me) but, of course, he would become highly supportive.

“He acknowledged football was my terrain.”

Chafa’s mother didn’t really hate football.

But she believed her son stood a good chance to clip a rewarding career in medicine, accounts or law.

For her, football was a risky undertaking.

“I almost fell into depression, especially after Devon (Chafa) defied our vision on him.

“It was painful but we then realised he was also entitled to his choices as a human being.

“My brother, ‘Mablanyo’ sat us down and gave a meaningful explanation, then we said fine,” she recalls.

“That is how we also started attending games he was involved in. 

“We realised Devon was gifted a lot in the field of play and as parents, we decided that we would support him in whatever way possible.

“He proved us wrong after all his achievements he has scored up to now. To think that Devon is the only player in Zimbabwe to win seven league titles with three different clubs makes us, as his parents, very proud. 

“We thank sekuru ‘Mablanyo’ for the stance he took because without him, I tell you, Chafa wouldn’t have been able to pursue football.

“What I can tell fellow parents out there, is that please support your children in all their endeavours, including sport.”

At 32, Chafa is one of the most decorated players in the history of the local league.

He is the only player to have won the league title seven times with three different teams inside just nine years.

Chafa was a huge part of the dominant Dynamos outfit under the mentorship of Callisto Pasuwa that won the league title four times on the bounce between 2011 and 2014. He would play a key role in ending CAPS United’s 11-year wait for the league title in 2016, the only time he made the Soccer Star of the Year calendar.

After a brief flirtation with Buildcon in Zambia, Chafa returned home to join FC Platinum and helped the Zvishavane team win the championship in 2018 and 2019.

And the workhorse says he isn’t done, as yet.

He rejoined the Green Machine last term and he wants to play a key part in making Makepekepe the ‘’Cup Kings’’ once again.

Yet, due to parental influence, Chafa never took football seriously.

“I started playing football at a very tender age going through the academy age-groups at Aces Youth Soccer Academy when they were still called Black Aces, with the likes of Ali Sadiki as my senior.

“I would play for the Under-13 and Under-15 age-groups and Sadiki and Brian Mapfumo would play from the Under-15s to Under-19. I then took a brief sabbatical (because my parents didn’t approve of me playing football) right after we won the Quench Under-13 tournament with the late Malcom ‘Coach Macho’ Chiweshe (MHSRIP).

“Honestly speaking, I did not take football seriously because I was more into academics and that’s what my parents wanted,” said Chafa.  “But my uncle Lloyd ‘Mablanyo’ Chigowe and Masimba ‘Sir Zhole’ Mutame encouraged me to take up both school work and football seriously because previously I had been part of the national Under-17 and Under-20 teams.

“I got inspired by a lot of guys. I remember going to watch the Dynamos ‘Kidznet’ (2002 under Moses ‘Bambo’ Chunga) play while selling cooked and roasted groundnuts. 

“Desmond Maringwa, Callisto Pasuwa and Method Manjali were the guys I would watch and they were like my role models.

“However, my parents were my biggest challenge because they never wanted me to play football.

“I played cat-and-mouse with them… It was really a challenge.  Uncle Mablanyo then came to my rescue….” Having played as an attacking midfielder at junior level, Chafa debuted in the league with Eagles under Mike ‘’Mickey Dread’’ Madzivanyika, playing right-back against CAPS United.

He bookmarked his entrance into the big boys’ league in that match after marking Tafadzwa Rusike, a top player back then, completely out of the game.

And that was the beginning of an illustrious career.

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