Mapeza sings Ebenezer
By Langton Nyakwenda
Norman Mapeza has been listening to a lot of Reverend Togarirepi Chivaviro’s spiritually filled songs, especially the 2015 chart buster “Ebenezer.”
Why shouldn’t he?
The lyrics resonates well with Mapeza’s current settings as the FC Platinum coach is revelling in glory after bagging his second consecutive league title with the Zvishavane based side.
Pure Platinum Play were crowned the 2018 Castle Lager Premier Soccer at Mandava yesterday with Mapeza becoming the first coach in Zimbabwean football history to win the top flight title twice with a team from outside Harare and Bulawayo.
Mapeza was also named Coach of the Month for October last week and is red hot favourite to retain the Castle Lager Premier Soccer League Coach of the Year award.
He says it’s all God’s doing!
“If I look at the difficult journey that I have travelled from the first day I joined FC Platinum, I can only say it is God who has taken me this far.
“That’s why I listen to Rev Chivaviro’s “Ebenezer” and some spiritual songs from Baba Mechanic Manyeruke because I have realised with God everything is possible,” Mapeza told The Sunday Mail Sport.
The 46-year-old gaffer rarely opens up on his inner life but yesterday, on his 1 550th day in charge of FC Platinum, which happened to be Pure Platinum Play’s coronation day, Mapeza chose the platform to reminisce on a platinum journey that began on August 10, 2014.
Mapeza has built a mean machine that is so ruthless at fortress Mandava where FC Platinum have suffered just four losses in the 69 league matches they have played in Zvishavane since the revered gaffer took charge.
But with all these stats to back up his sucess, the former Warriors coach, who also won another league title with Monomotapa back in 2008, refuses to be self-centred.
“It’s not about Mapeza or pride per se but this is about the whole FC Platinum family,” he insisted.
“From my technical team, players, the club executive and the Zvishavane community, everyone has played a part.
“Without their support I wouldn’t have achieved this. It’s all about hard work, determination and dedication as well as building a good working relationship with the players.
“Everything I do in football, even from my early playing days at Darryn T in Chitungwiza, I do it seriously. You can ask my childhood friend Lloyd (Chitembwe), he knows how much effort we put during our formative years.
“We would wake up at 6 am and train on our own before joining the rest of Darryn T players, and then train again on our own after the team’s session.”
Born to a peasant family in Honde Valley back in 1972, Mapeza only came to Harare at the age of five.
He grew up with a step mother following the death of his biological mother back in 1986.
Mapeza credits his late mother for planting the “never-give-up seed” in him.
“My mother always reminded us of the need to work hard given our background. And I have been working hard since then. Look at my history, playing for the national team, going to Europe, it was all because of hard work,” said the former Galatasaray utility player.
Mapeza’s passion for the game is unmistakable and his touchline antics have always given photographers some nice back page pictures.
“If I don’t do that my players switch off. Football is our job and my players know it’s time to work when they see me animated on the touchline.
“I am also strict with these boys because football has become more scientific these days. I have to know what they eat, how they spend their social time, I have to literally control everything or else we won’t have fit players here.” Mapeza’s players know what kind of a gaffer he is, surely one not to mess with.
No fast foods, no night life and more work is the culture at FC Platinum.
Post-match celebrations are usually cut short with focus shifting to the next game, there’s little time for social media and Mapeza himself is neither active on Twitter nor Facebook.
“I don’t have time for social media, it wastes my time,” he said.
Mapeza is a disciple of Chelsea’s Italian coach Maurizio Sarri, whose scintillating brand of expansive, attacking football transformed his former side Napoli into a powerhouse back in the Serie A.
“I don’t support any club in Europe because I only watch football to learn. Obviously I like Barcelona’s style and I also followed Napoli’s progress when Sarri was still there. I like Sarri’s methods a lot.
“I also read a lot about Manchester City coach Pep (Guardiola) and I also pick some things from Brazilian football, yes I read a lot about Brazilian teams,” revealed Mapeza.
The 2018 season began on a low for Mapeza who sustained a back injury in a freak gym incident before undergoing surgery on March 2.
It was a terrible period for Mapeza as he missed FC Platinum’s first seven games.
“It was painful but on the flip side that period showed me how supportive my family is. My wife Blandina is always a pillar, my kids Njabulo (15) and Sasha (12) were also there for me.
“My children do not play football, they are into cricket but they enquire a lot about my profession. They want to know if I am okay.
“My siblings also stood by my side, you see my family has always been there from the days I started professional football,” he said.
While some find it difficult to get along with him, Mapeza reckons disagreements are healthy for the good of the game.
“I believe we fight to make each other better, I have had some disagreements with some football journalists and yes sometimes we disagree but in the end we all need each other. In fact I learn a lot from what you guys write.
“To my fellow coaches, let’s keep sharing ideas to better ourselves. You are all good coaches,” said the FC Platinum mentor. Sunday Mail.