By Albert Marufu
Joe “Kode” Mugabe, from Mabvuku who transformed himself into one of the greatest servants of CAPS United in a distinguished career in which this diminutive genius touched the heavens, turns 50 today.
To honour the man who carried the aspirations of the Green Machine for over a decade, the football community in England, in liaison with his family, have organised a birthday party slated for October 6 in Reading where he is now based.
Mugabe — born on September 3, 1968 — left an indelible mark in local football with consistent performances for his club since breaking into the first team in 1988.
As a result, CAPS United even contemplated retiring the No. 7 shirt upon his retirement in 2001.
A chip off the old block, Mugabe, the son of former BAT Ramblers player and Circle Cement manager, the late Joshua Mugabe, was voted as the club’s Player of the Year a record four times in 1993, 1994, 1998 and 2001.
He also won the 1996 Premier Soccer League title and a number of major trophies that saw CAPS United earning the tag Cup Kings.
Mugabe, who almost joined CAPS United rivals Dynamos in 1995 before being frustrated by DeMbare’s lack of professionalism in player contracts, was also a Soccer Star of the Year finalist in 1994, 1995, 1996 and 2001.
Now based in England since 2002, Mugabe said he owes his glittering career to God’s grace and support from fans. “It has been long and exciting journey and I am currently writing my autobiography which will have more details. CAPS United Under-16 team had a game with Mabvuku Area D.
“I was 14 years old that time, but the coaches decided that I was good enough to play despite my age. CAPS United had players such as Oscar Motsi and Edwin Farai. “We lost the match, but the late CAPS United juniors coach Alois Patsika gave me 50 cents for bus fare to come to the team’s training session the following day.
“That was a lot of money that time and bus fare was seven cents to Glen Norah from Mabvuku. I was so happy and the following morning I went to the CAPS United training session,” he said.
Graduating to the senior team was not easy at all.
“On my way to CAPS United juniors training sessions I had to pass through Raylton Sports Club (in Harare) where the senior team used to train.
“That was my main motivation as I did not want to continue making the long trip to Glen Norah.
“I spent the whole of 1988 on the bench as there were good midfielders such as Joel Shambo, Roy Ngwenya and Edwin Farai. I got my chance towards the end of the year when Ngwenya got injured just after 20 minutes against Highlanders,” said Mugabe, who is son to the late former Mabvuku Member of Parliament, Irene Mugabe.
He added: “A number of people have supported me over the years and I have to thank the Lord. He gave me a family that includes my blood relatives and the football community that has not forgotten me 17 years after my retirement.
“My children are doing well and I am happy. Ashley has just graduated with a BA (Hons) Business Management degree from Solent University in Southampton while his brother is studying Computer Science Bsc (Hons) at the University of Portsmouth. Irene was in the news recently owing to her prowess in netball.
“I am grateful to the football community, in liaison with my wife, who have organised a birthday party for me. My friends, wife Jennifer and the children Irene, Ashley and Alvin and my siblings Josephine, Innocent (also a former footballer), Caroline and Nyasha have been supportive throughout the years.
“Unfortunately, my parents and sister Patience are now late,” he said.
Speaking about the CAPS United class of 1996, Mugabe said everything just clicked. “The team had people with strong personalities in players such as Mpumulelo Dzowa, Frank Nyamukuta, Edelbert Dinha, Silver Chigwenje, Alois Bunjira and Stewart Murisa, among a host of others.
Our coach, Steve “The Dude” Kwashi, believed in hard work.” However, if there is a game that he would want to forget in a hurry, it is the 1994 Nicoz Africa Day Trophy which CAPS United surrendered a 2-0 first half cushion to lose the match to arch-rivals Dynamos.
“The one that hurts me most is the 1994 Nicoz Diamond Africa Day Trophy against Dynamos. We were leading 2-0. I had scored the second goal, but ended up losing the match 4-2,” he said.
On the future, Mugabe said he has no plans to go into coaching but football administration.
“At this age it might be too late to venture into coaching, but am willing to assist in any capacity. It is not my wish to go into coaching but football administration.
“I have done a number of sports management courses with a view of going into football administration when the time comes,” said Mugabe who also holds a FA Level One coaching badge.
“I am a product of a sound junior policy and that is why we have started the CAPS United UK-based legends, a registered community organisation that is assisting in the growth of junior football in Zimbabwe.
“I am the chairperson and other executive members are Frank Nyamukuta, Timothy Chirozvani, Cannisius Tongesai, Liberty Masunda, Tichaona Nyenda, Leonard Chirozvani, Charles Chikeya and Mpumelelo Dzowa, who is based in the United States.
“We have been in operation for the past three years and this year’s edition will be held on December 8. Dzowa will be joining us.
“The project is aimed at developing junior football in Zimbabwe regardless of team affiliation. I also assist my brother Innocent with ideas in running his BJ Academy in Zimbabwe,” he said.
Mugabe also recalled how he resurfaced at the now defunct Sporting Lions after retiring from the game.
“It was a contractual issue. I wanted to retire as a player to concentrate on my role as an assistant coach, but the executive wanted me to continue as player/assistant coach,” he said.
“Thomas Mapfumo convinced me to assist his then struggling team, the now-defunct Sporting Lions.
Lloyd Mutasa became my assistant and I made Callisto Pasuwa the team captain. I am happy that Mutasa and Pasuwa went on to become some of the best coaches in Zimbabwe.”