IT’S BEEN YOUR WEEK, FORWARD Forward Nyanyiwa

Sharuko on Saturday

THIS week, only one story dominated our sports landscape – the bombshell interview which our Ireland-based correspondent, Forward Nyanyiwa, secured from his base in Dublin.

There are a number of things about Forward which have always impressed me since he joined this profession as a fresh-faced medical correspondent for The Sunday Mail.

This is a guy who had to complete a nursing course first simply because he wanted to fully understand the field that he wanted to major in as a medical correspondent.

This is a gut who is an oasis of fearlessness, nothing, absolutely nothing, intimidates him, including supporting England, in an Irish bar in Dublin.

Some will describe it as something that borders between madness, disguised as craziness, and an ultra-daredevil approach that is not only dangerous but possibly suicidal.

There is a story of him being thrown out of an Irish pub because he happened to be the odd man, among the mob, who was rooting for England.

The other thing that I like about Forward is he is really committed to the principles of journalism and is a guy who has a deep understanding that we are a different breed of animals to the masters of public relations.

It’s a measure of the scarcity of proper and explosive journalistic articles, within our domestic sports landscape that one comes along, like Forward’s exclusive this week, it really shakes things up.

The arrival of social media has changed journalism in a very big way and sports journalism have found themselves in a very difficult situation because exclusive stories are now harder to come by.

The football match reports, which used to be gold during our era in the field, have become virtually worthless because by the time the newspaper comes out the following day, just about everything would have been discussed on social media.

But, this week, my brother Forward showed me that there is still a place for proper journalism, even in this era of social media and all the madness that it carries, in sport.

All that is required is for one to find the right contacts, gain their confidence and come up with a properly written story and it can appeal to the readers in a very big way.

If I was one of the young sports journalists who are on the frontline of this profession today, the guys who replaced us on the field after we retired into the newsrooms, I would take Forward’s story as a challenge.

A challenge for me to also try and go that extra mile and look for that story which, when it comes out, really captures the attention of the nation and provokes debate for, at least, a week.

The brutal truth is that in the sports journalism fraternity of this country, it has been known, since last month when the Warriors played at the Four Nations tournament in Malawi, that something was just not right at that tourney.

There were whispers, faint ones, that some of the members of the British Brigade had reservations with the treatment they received on that tour of duty and that should have been enough to trigger interest among our guys to really pursue the story in the background.

That’s what Forward simply did, following his instincts, and he talked to some people who matter and came out with an exclusive story which has shaken domestic football in a very big way.

His story also showed me that our sister newspaper, H-Metro, the tabloid I am honoured to edit, is not some sort of little paper which is just a platform for just sex scandals and gossip. That it is, indeed, a serious and quite influential newspaper.

We were the only newspaper, which carried Forward’s story, thanks to our hardworking colleagues at Zimpapers Sports, and little did we know that the report was going to torch such a huge veld fire.

But, the way it exploded was a reminder that we punch above our weight and that’s quite refreshing for all of us who spend the better part of each day working to produce this tabloid.

 FOOTBALL IS CHANGING RAPIDLY

Generally, today’s professional footballers have more power and are outspoken compared to their counterparts from the past.

In the build up to the 2002 World Cup, Roy Keane told the Irish Times that he had serious reservations with the way Ireland’s coach Mick McCarthy.

When McCarthy responded, Keane exploded with rage:

 “Mick, you’re a liar… you’re a f*****g w****r. I didn’t rate you as a player, I don’t rate you as a manager, and I don’t rate you as a person. You can stick your World Cup up your a**e. The only reason I have any dealings with you is that somehow you are the manager of my country.”

Well, Keane was expelled from the World Cup and the rest is history.

We have the Souness/Bellamy sensational fallout at Newcastle, Alan Shearer/Joey Barton controversy at the same club, the Ivano Bonetti/Brian Laws drama at Grimsby Town and the Pogba/Mourinho fallout at Manchester United.

When France crashed out the group stages at the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa, Nicolas Anelka tore into the national team coach Raymond Domenech saying:

“I insulted a coach who the whole of France had already insulted, a coach who had never won anything apart from Ligue 2 and the Toulon tournament. When you have been coached by Ancelotti and other greats, it’s hard to be coached by Domenech.”

 I’m not saying all this is right but I am just highlighting that in today’s world, professional footballers have been having a big say, in public, about their coaches and managers.

I’m not saying Zemura was right to highlight his feelings, in that explosive interview Forward held with his handlers, but I’m just saying that it’s something which is now common among professional footballers.

Yes, it came at a huge cost for Sancho when he hit out at Ten Hag for lying but the huge wave of support from his fellow professionals, including Haaland, when he moved on loan to Borussia Dortmund, showed footballers are becoming fond of having their voices heard.

That Garnacho went on to like negative comments about Ten Hag, after the manager criticised his recent performance, and despite what happened to Sancho, shows that the footballers are not retreating when it comes to a search for their voices to be heard.

Zemura is a feisty young man, who believes in his talent and his convictions, and that is why, when he felt that Bournemouth were not giving him a fair pay deal, he refused to commit to them.

It didn’t matter to him that he would be outlawed from the first team, and consigned to the humiliation of training with the academy players, which happened, as long as he would realise his dream of being freed from the bondage where he was being paid about US$400 a week.

FOR ME, THIS WAS THE BIG TAKEAWAY

There are others who are saying Norman Mapeza should not have responded to Zemura.

I don’t agree with that because I think it was also important that Mapeza clarify certain things and, personally, I am not someone who wants today’s players and coaches to be chained to a past where they were supposed to act as robots.

They are human beings and Pep Guardiola recently found himself having to deal with Kevin De Bruyne publicly questioning his decision to substitute him in the game against Liverpool.

And, in response, Pep said he was okay with his star player’s hostile reaction to his decision.

This is where football finds itself today and yesterday’s authoritarian world of Alex Ferguson has been left behind.

And, isn’t it ironic that Sancho, hounded out of Old Trafford, is now in the Champions League semi-finals while Ten Hag and his United were the first to be knocked out?

For me, the biggest story out of the explosive Forward article was the confirmation that Mapeza did not pick the squad which went to Malawi for the Four Nations tournament.

The big question then is – WHO SELECTED THE SQUAD?

We have known for some time now that Lincoln Mutasa is presiding over a dysfunctional ZIFA board, probably twenty times worse than what Felton Kamambo’s board used to give us.

But, we never knew that some officials at ZIFA were now calling players into the Warriors squad and they were responsible for assembling the team which went to Malawi.

Since when have ZIFA officials acquired the technical capacity to know which players have earned the right to be drafted into the Warriors, which positions they will play and which formations would be used?

If the ZIFA officials have that capacity to call players then why don’t they then just go ahead and coach the team rather than bring in someone, who didn’t call these players, to take charge of the team?

Maybe, Mutasa should just have assigned Kudzi Chitima to take charge of the team given that he seemingly appears to have a huge interest in the Warriors.

It probably also explains why there doesn’t seem to have been a mandate, cast in stone, about what we really wanted in Malawi?

Did we want to win the tournament and, if so, to what benefit in the long term?

Did we want to give all our newboys a chance to stake their claim, which would have meant there was no need to call or play regulars like Munetsi and Zemura, so that we know who can come in the future?

It appears, Mapeza was not given any mandate and that is sad because we lost a big chance to really see some of these newboys in action. If I was Mapeza, I would have turned down the invitation to coach a team which I did not pick.

By accepting such invitations, and plunging himself into the mess which is being created by the ZIFA officials, Mapeza is simply exposing himself and I’m not surprised many fans, who used to back him, are turning against him.

He is being set up to fail but, somehow, he doesn’t seem to be seeing something that is very clear.

Whatever the case, let’s take a bow to my brother Forward. 

That was the scoop of your career brother.

 To God Be The Glory!

Peace to the GEPA Chief, the Big Fish, George Norton, Daily Service, Sitting Bull, Crazy Horse and all the Chakariboys still in the struggle.

Come on Chegutu Pirates!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Zaireeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

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Email: robsharuko@gmail,com; [email protected]

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