Ellina Mhlanga Sports Reporter
THE Zimbabwe National Soccer Supporters Association founding leader Eddie “Mboma” Nyatanga has paid tribute to the late Transport and Infrastructural Development Minister Joel Biggie Matiza for his involvement in the establishment of five-a-side football in this country.
Matiza, who succumbed to Covid-19 related complications at St Anne’s Hospital on Friday night, was one of the few individuals that were on the forefront in the promotion of five-a-side football in the country together with Nyatanga, Cephas Msipa (Jnr) and Steve “MP” Nyoka in the mid-1990s.
The late Minister played a major role in fund-raising for Zimbabwe’s participation at the 1996 Africa Futsal Championships in Cairo, Egypt.
The tournament was a qualifier for the FIFA Futsal World Cup that was staged in Spain in that same year.
Zimbabwe came third to walk away with a bronze medal at the African tournament although they missed qualification to the global showpiece. ac
According to Nyatanga, Matiza was among a few individuals that were involved in the establishment of five-a-side football in this country and was one of the directors of five-a-side football side JB Five.
“We were together in Nigeria for seven years. We were best of friends. We came back together in 1984 and when we came back, we actually went to my father’s house in Cranborne, we were close. We were also together in Zambia (during the liberation struggle).
“In mid-1990s, he (Matiza) was one of the directors of JB Five. He was involved with the team together with Steve Nyoka because they needed two directors. I had my own team BMC Bombers and Cephas Masimba Msipa (Jnr) was my major sponsor.
“Then the team (that was supposed to go for the African Championships in Egypt in 1996) had financial problems so Matiza helped in bankrolling the team. It was him (Matiza) and Msipa (Jnr). We did a fund-raising for five-a-side football and they came in to assist. They were part of the fund-raisers for the team to go to Cairo,” said Nyatanga.
Nyatanga said together with Matiza and Msipa (Jnr) they played a key role in the establishment of five-a-side football in this country.
“Actually we are the ones who started five-a-side football in Zimbabwe. Cephas Msipa (Jnr) was the one who said we should start five-a-side football. It was around 1984, 1985 after returning from Nigeria, we didn’t have anything to do, so we started five-a-side football until it grew to 20 teams that is when he (Matiza) left to pursue a career in politics.
“We have lost a hard worker. He loved his job. He was humble and not talkative like some of us. He was quiet,” said Nyatanga.
Msipa (Jnr) yesterday also shared their journey with Matiza in the promotion of five-a-side football, which they viewed as a tool to uplift young people in Mbare and other high-density suburbs in Harare.
“I worked with JB Matiza extensively when we co-founded what was known as Five-a-side Soccer League and we actually put together a team that went to Egypt and won a bronze medal in a World Cup qualifier in September 1996. “JB Matiza was instrumental in putting together the funding for that trip and really worked hard to uplift the youths and the whole idea of five-a-side football, we were trying to uplift the youth in Mbare and other high-density suburbs.
“JB Matiza was the sponsor of one of the teams, which was known as JB Five in the league . . . He went on to become a Member of Parliament in pursuit of the upliftment agenda,” said Msipa (Jnr).
Msipa (Jnr) was involved with BMC Bombers.
They continued working together under the Zimbabwe National Soccer Supporters Association with Msipa (Jnr) as president, deputised by Nyatanga while the late Matiza and Coleman Majaya (late) were committee members.
“He (Matiza) was someone quite well educated and really could have done very well just pursuing his work in architecture but he had some element of social responsibility and public calling that kept him involved in the calling beyond his professional sphere.
“When he came to five-a-side football he was basically reflecting on the social calling and going on to become an MP and being assigned Ministerial duties was a continuation of that public calling.
“He was a very simple man to talk to . . . He still had an open door policy. We could still talk to him now even when we were done playing and sponsoring football. So he had a gift in a way of humility.
“We pray for his family and hope they will be able to get over this untimely loss. Even the nation has lost a public spirited human being. He would have still done a lot in terms of what he would have been assigned,” Msipa (Jnr) said.
Alex “Chola” Chasweka, who captained the Zimbabwe five-a-side football team at the 1996 African Futsal Championship which took place in Cairo, Egypt, from September 25 to September 30, 1996, also expressed condolences to the Matiza family yesterday.
“A thought of comfort and condolences to the grieving Matiza family. JB Matiza is gone from our sight, but never from our hearts. Heartfelt thoughts go out to you, the Matiza family, especially to his wife Lilian and children, in this time of sorrow. I will be thinking of you in this moment of pain. I am thinking about you and sending love from Wales,” Chasweka said from his base in Swansea, Wales.