Eddie Chikamhi-Senior Sports Reporter
HUGS, handshakes and smiles punctuated the farewell dinner that was hosted for departing Dynamos coach Tonderai Ndiraya by his club at a Harare hotel on Thursday night.
Ndiraya will be leaving DeMbare when his contract expires at the end of this month.
The Harare giants, who also parted ways with their chairman Isaiah Mupfurutsa, decided against renewing the coach’s contract following a lukewarm season that ended with a bronze. But on Thursday evening, they arranged a dinner that was attended by the club’s leadership, office staff, captain Partson Jaure representing the players and Dynamos supporters’ association chairperson Benjamin Munzira for the supporters.
Oddly as it seemed, the climax of the event was when the new Dynamos executive committee chairman Moses Maunganidze presented Ndiraya a gift packaged in blue wrapping paper.
Many people had questioned the wisdom of arranging dinner for someone they had fired.
“As much as some people were saying why would we need to gather and arrange such an event when you have parted ways with the coach?” said Maunganidze.
“I think people view life differently and this is the first of its kind where we don’t need to meet in the streets and then we throw stones at each other simply because we have parted ways.
“We always need to leave room and anticipate meeting and working together again in the future. We are all Dynamos; we are one family.” Ndiraya, who was dressed exquisitely in a skinny charcoal grey suit, said he was grateful for the time he spent as Dynamos head coach in the last three seasons.
“Thank you so much for inviting me to this important occasion. I am really honored and allow me to thank the club and its leadership for supporting me and the players throughout my tenure with the team.
“We always meet to part and vice-versa; we also part to meet. I think at this moment, it’s time that we are parting but I appreciate all the support.
“I also appreciate the support I got from the fans and I also want to pass my gratitude and sincere thanks to the whole team. They always make our jobs easy as coaches and mine was easier because I had a very supportive team led by captain Partson Jaure.
“Of course, the support that I got from the team as a whole — I mean everyone involved with Dynamos. I want to appreciate you all and wish the club well in its future endeavours,” said Ndiraya. The former midfielder was appointed head coach in 2019, replacing Lloyd Chigowe. Ndiraya still felt he did well with the team considering he redeemed DeMbare, from a side that had fought relegation in 2018, to championship contenders.
DeMbare finished 11th in 2018, with Ndiraya’s predecessor Chigowe playing a key role in the Glamour Boys’ survival.
Ndiraya was appointed in 2019, after just five games and they went on to finish ninth before the game was disrupted by Covid-19.
Ndiraya has always been under the spotlight, when the game returned this season, after the Glamour Boys overhauled their squad twice following the securing of lucrative sponsorship deals with Gold Leaf Tobacco and Sakunda Holdings.
Expectations were high when the game returned this season with Sakunda Holdings replacing Gold Leaf Tobacco with a bigger and better package.
But DeMbare somehow wilted under pressure during the marathon to finish a distant 17 points behind champions FC Platinum, who raked up 75 points on the road for their fourth consecutive Castle Lager Premier Soccer League title.
Ndiraya argued their 58 points this season were also an upgrade to the tally of 42 and 44 points they had in 2018 and 2019 and had begged for more time.
Meanwhile, one of Dynamos founding members Shacky Chitimbe has died.
Chitimbe, who served as a board member for a long time, died on Wednesday and was buried at his rural home in Murehwa.
Dynamos chairman Maunganidze confirmed the tragedy during the farewell dinner.
“Allow me to share with you the sad news that we received yesterday on the passing on of Mr Shacky Chitimbe. He was one of the members of the board of directors.
“He passed on in Mrehwa yesterday (Wednesday) and our board chairman Mr Marriot-Lunsengo could not be with us because of the funeral. Burial is tomorrow, Friday (today),” said Maunganidze.
Chitimbe has been the DeMbare board vice-chairman from 2014.
He was there when the club was formed in 1963 by a group of black players and administrators that included Sam Dauya, Richard Chiminya, Obediah Sarupinda, Freddy Mkwesha, Jairos Banda, Denver Mahachi, Morrison Sifelani, Danny Bricks Thomas, Josiah Akende and Patrick Amato Dzvene.
However, most of the DeMbare founding fathers are now late.