Robson Sharuko Senior Sports Editor
HE has just completed his first year away from the razzmatazz of the fast lane of domestic football but, as Farai Jere celebrated his 40th birthday anniversary on Christmas Day, there was no disguising the fact that the game remains a very big part of his life.
There was an Arsenal-branded cake at the party, at his rural home in Murehwa, and CAPS United featured prominently, in the songs belted out at the ceremony by various groups who entertained the guests, the underlying tone being the call for the Green Machine to thrive and become a successful football club again.
In the year that he has spent on the sidelines, Jere has tried as much as possible to withdraw himself from the affairs of a CAPS United team that he ran, as part of the directors, for nine years but the singing party in Murehwa on Wednesday, provided him with a timely reminder of some of the sounds that he has missed on his sabbatical.
Surrounded by his family, including his mother, father and children, Jere soaked in the occasion as the bands, including Vabvuwi, played on in the background against the spectacular surroundings of the rolling hills in this quiet, rural and humble setting where his life had started 40 years ago.
“I’ve enjoyed my break from the day-to-day running of a football club and all the emotions that come with that, it hasn’t been easy because once you are a football man you will always be one, but just watching from a distance, like any other spectator, has been a different but comfortable experience,” Jere told The Herald.
“It has given me time to do more for my business, to be closer to the family and also to go to school again and boost my education.
“Of course, as a fan, I followed the Warriors and was hurt when we fared badly in the World Cup campaign and I went to Zambia to support the boys during the Cosafa Cup final where we just came short, in the final, after being beaten by the hosts although I was charmed with the fighting spirit that the boys showed.
“I returned to Zambia for the CHAN final qualifier, when we needed either a win or a scoring draw to qualify for the finals in South Africa, and I think a lot of people had not given our boys a chance but Ian Gorowa and his men really rose to the occasion that day and beat the Zambians in their backyard.
“When I look back at my sporting year, in 2013, I can say that win by our boys in Zambia was one of the highlights of my year and I hope the Warriors will do well at the CHAN finals, you feel our football needs something to bring back the smiles and Gorowa and his men should try and seize the initiative.
“In the past year, I have also grown closer to women’s football and I have watched a number of games featuring the Mighty Warriors, thanks to the invitations that I have been getting from Mavis Gumbo (Zimbabwe Women Soccer League boss) and the good working relations that we have forged.”
Jere, who was CAPS United vice-president when he decided to take a break from the game, said he supported his Green Machine from a distance and, just like the other fans, was charmed by the way they competed but, ultimately, heartbroken that they feel just short.
The Harare businessman remains a shareholder at the Green Machine and doesn’t want to discuss the shareholding issues that clouded his departure, save for saying that he expects everything to be sorted in a new dispensation where CAPS United are now run by a board of directors made up of a number of respected professionals.
While Jere, the football administrator remains tight-lipped when it comes to discussing the events in the boardroom, Jere, the football fan, is more open and engaging.
“I think we have an excellent coach, Tau Mangwiro, who is probably the best among the crop of young coaches that we have in the country today and, this year, he excelled again and made us very competitive,” said Jere.
“I have always felt that Tau could be the man who could do as well as Charles Mhlauri because he is always tactical, a modern coach who always wants to improve himself and the sky is the limit for him and he needs to win one of the big trophies to really get going.
“The players, too, responded very well and handled themselves with dignity in the way they competed.”
Jere was linked to Motor Action, at the beginning of the year, and then to Hippo Valley, at the end of the year, but the Harare businessman said a lot of it was just speculation without any substance.
“Yes, there was an offer from Motor Action for some partnership of some sort and there were some proposals that were brought to the office but it didn’t get beyond that because I felt it just didn’t sound right for me to be seen joining other teams when I was a shareholder at CAPS United,” said Jere.
“I think people don’t understand what being a shareholder means and, in football, you can only have one heart for one team, whether you are a director or you are just a supporter is irrelevant, you can’t just switch your loyalty just like that.
“I think the classic response I kept giving them was that you can take me out of CAPS United but you can’t take CAPS United out of me.
“The Hippo Valley thing was something that was started by some people, without my involvement, and they approached me but, again, I told them that I had no time for that.
“I’m enjoying my break, guys, just watching from a distance and next year I’m looking forward to the 2014 World Cup, hoping that one of our African teams will do very well there, and also I wish the Warriors can be successful at CHAN because that could be a good starting point for us in the build-up to the 2015 Afcon qualifiers.”