Collin Matiza Sports Editor
IN what is a first in this country’s football history, former Dynamos and Warriors goalkeeper, the legendary Japhet “Shortcat” M’parutsa has written an autobiography and the book will soon be launched at his base in the UnitedKingdom.
Conveniently titled: “Japhet ‘Shortcat’ M’parutsa: My Story”, the book, the first to be written by a former Zimbabwean footballer, narrates how he grew up in Mbare in the 1970s and went on to become one of the best goalkeepers to emerge from Zimbabwe.
According to the UK-based co-author, Lot Chitakasha, the book traces M’parutsa’s humble beginnings, the challenges he faced and his determination to succeed and overcome as he emerged to become one of the finest goalkeepers in Zimbabwe.
Another former Warriors goalkeeper, the legendary Bruce “Jungleman” Grobbelaar also described M’parutsa’s autobiography as “a story of persistence and determination”.
Playing for Dynamos, Black Rhinos, Darryn T and South Africa’s Bloemfontein Celtics, the man simply known as “The Shortcat”, battled the odds and broke several records in a career spanning more than 17 years.
In 1982, at the age of 19, M’parutsa wrote his own piece of history when he became the first goalkeeper to win the Soccer Star-of-the-Year award while he was still turning out for Dynamos, a team he joined in the late 1970s from Harare Central Hospital’s soccer side.
Speaking from his base at Kent in the UK, M’parutsa, now 52 and a devout Christian, exclusively told The Herald yesterday that it took him two years to write his autobiography.
“People, who include my friends on Facebook, were behind this idea as they kept on saying or telling me that I should write a book,” he said.
“It has 80 pages and several pictures of me in action.
“The book is going for £9.99 and we are launching it very soon here in the UK but most of the copies will be made available in Zimbabwe. And I would like to thank Rudo Bingapinge and Tawona Banda for script editing.”
M’parutsa’s daughter died a few years ago but his son, Ernest, is still around to read his father’s autobiography.
M’parutsa left Zimbabwe to stay in the UK in 1999.
The book also talks about when the chips were down.
Born on August 8, 1963, M’parutsa grew up in Mwamuka Street in Mbare and did his primary school education at nearby Chitsere Primary School where, in the mid-1970s, he started his goalkeeping career in the school’s “juniors” soccer side.
And by the time he was a Grade Five pupil, Mparutsa had already graduated to play for the school’s “seniors”, a team composed of players who were two or three years older than him and were already Grade Seven pupils.
Then Chitsere Primary School was the home of several young promising players, who went on to play for several top clubs in Zimbabwe, Anthony Kambani, the late Stanley “Chola” Manyati, Bernard Timbenawo, Eric Aisam and Hudson Munyari Chikwenga.
And soon after leaving Chitsere Primary School, M’parutsa briefly played for the Dynamos juniors side before he moved to Harare Central Hospital’s soccer team where he teamed-up with (now veteran soccer writer) Tendai Ndemera before they both moved back to play for DeMbare’s juniors’ team again in the late 1970s. They were soon to be joined at the Dynamos juniors’ team by the likes of Edward “Madhobha” Katsvere and Enerst Mutano.
The Glamour Boys were then training behind Rufaro (where the stadium’s main car park is now situated at) and “Hainangozi” and used to draw hundreds of their fans (this writer included) at each and every of their training sessions there.
It was while he was playing for the Dynamos juniors’ side that M’parutsa was first spotted by the club’s then player-coach Shepherd Murape in the late 1970s and was asked to come and train with the senior side, rubbing shoulders with the likes of the legendary George “Mastermind” Shaya, the late Shaw “Kojak” Handriade, David “Yogi” Mandigora, Enock “Mujibha” Pakamisa (late), Kuda Muchemeyi (late), Barnard Chidziva, Daniel “Dhidhidhi” Ncube (late), Hilario Nengari (late), Oliver “Flying Saucer” Kateya (late), Laban Kandi, Simon Sachiti, David “Broomboy” George, and the Chidzambwa brothers, Sunday and Misheck.
M’parutsa had his first taste of international football as an 18-year-old when he kept goals for Dynamos during the then African Champions’ Cup match against Shooting Stars of Nigeria in 1981.
And after playing for Dynamos for more than three years (both at junior and senior level), M’parutsa joined army side Black Rhinos from DeMbare at the beginning of the 1983 season and “Chauya Chipembere” were under the guidance of Shepherd Murape, as the head coach, and the late Ashton “Papa” Nyazika, who was his assistant.
His consistent high-level performances were rewarded when he was voted Soccer Star of the Year in 1982 while still at Dynamos and then helped Black Rhinos win the league and cup double in 1984.
In 1985 he won the Vaseline Blue Seal Goalkeeper of the Year award and that was before he left Rhinos in the late 1980s to join Darryn T only to leave the textile side in 1993 for South Africa’s Bloemfontein Celtics.
M’parutsa finally hung up his gloves in the late 1990s and moved to the UK where is currently based.