by Lovemore Dube
November 10 2017 – TWO football legends have passed on recently – Friday Phiri and Andrew Scrupata Jele.
Both are real football legends whose names had been erased from many’s memories because of a prevailing set up in Zimbabwe where both club and country forgets you as soon as your last playing or coaching job.
Many former footballers die paupers because there are no insurance schemes to support them. Most have poor education and after spending close to 20 years in the game they retire to find nothing in store to do. They cant all be club chairpersons and coaches hence the need for provident funds and an education to fall on.
Phiri started his career at Railstars in Bulawayo before moving to Mutare United where he was identified by Caps United then Rovers in the late 1970s.
Breakdown as he was popularly known was a fearsome attacking player with a big frame who strode over tackles and made easy work of challenges to score many goals for United.
He was part of the Caps United side that beat Zimbabwe Saints 5-2 in the 1979 Chibuku Trophy final before going to collect almost every piece of silverware contested between 1980 and 1990 when he was in the twilight of his playing career.
He coached a number of football clubs in the country. A man who loved junior development, Phiri coached clubs such as Grain Tigers, Border Strikers and Underhill but had since been drawn to football’s trash box by a system that seems to favour current footballers.
“There has to be a provident fund or some insurance policy deliberately enforced by both PSL and Zifa for all active professional and semi-professional players. Football tends to be the only trade most know so it has to provide them with seed capital for life after playing days,” said Dalubuhle Bhebhe a Bulawayo based, Brazil trained gaffer.
Bhebhe was on his way to watch Lesotho clash with Zimbabwe on Wednesday night at the invitation of a Poland based BaSotho player he coached in South Africa some years ago.
Jele was part of the people creditted with saving Highlanders from collapse during the Big Three split of 1963 when semi-professional football became a reality with the launch of a national league.
Some Highlanders players left the club to form the first splinter side Cobras.
Highlanders who were left on the brink of collapse were assisted by Hwange who played friendly matches and from gatetakings, Bosso were able to buy uniforms and balls.
As the two clubs forged a relationship which has seen friendly matches between the two in the off-season last to recent years, Jele was asked to join Highlanders as a way of bolstering the 1955-56 Livingstone Memorial Cup winners who were left with the likes of Edward Magungubala Dlamini.
But in a system where Johhny Come Late in administration are celebrated more than legends, Jele who lived in Entumbane, a stone’s throw from Cosmas Zulu a celebrated Bulawayo and Zimbabwe coach, had long been forgotten at both Highlanders and Hwange FC.
He was a gifted left winger who played with the likes of Mwape Sakala and James Nkonde at Hwange while at Bosso his teammates were Lawrence Phiri, Edward Dzowa, Tommy Masuku, Billy Sibanda, Silas Ndlovu, Nehemiah Dube, Barry Daka and Ananias Dube who were the foundation of the 1973 pioneering cup winning Highlanders that beat Mhangura 3-0 to lift its first major piece of silverware the 1973 Chibuku Trophy.
Zifa has to make a deliberate move to raise the profile of former players most of whom need help with their daily welfare.
ZimsInSa will with effect from next week be profiling some of the country’s greatest sporting names.