By Lovemore Dube
A momentous Saturday afternoon recently had Peter Nkomo, George Shaya and Ndumiso Gumede all under one roof.Football was the unifying factor as Mastermind, as Shaya was known by his legion of fans presented Nkomo with six balls for the launch of his Peter Nkomo Goalkeeping Academy.
The novelty idea has been on the agenda for years. A chat between Highlanders and Zimbabwe legend Alexander Maseko and football fan Milton Changachirere saw Captain Oxo (Nkomo) break new ground.
“This is the way to go for us legends. We have to plough back to the sport and what Milton (Changachirere) has done to bring George Shaya to Bulawayo to present to Peter demonstrates football’s strength to bring people together.
“Through this initiative the safest pair of hands in the country may be born. Peter Nkomo is a name synonymous with greatness in between the posts and Highlanders. He should be supported in his endeavour,” said Shaya, a record five-time Soccer Star of the Year winner.
Shaya had praises for Nkomo who he played against just for one season as he retired in 1980 after a glittering career that began at St Paul’s Musami and took him to Dynamos where he spent 15 colourful and successful years.
“These balls we are presenting to Nkomo are of two different sizes meaning that even little boys will be able to grasp basics with a smaller ball. I have seen boys struggle with big balls which frustrates them in their development,” said Shaya.
Nkomo’s eyes shone in the near dark Highlanders Clubhouse bar as he received the balls.
Nkomo will always be remembered for a successful and trophy laden career at Highlanders which began in the early 1970s as a junior at the club. He started off as a striker and even scored a goal for the first team when fielded as a striker at one stage.
He recalls growing up watching great goalminders at the club Bruce Grobbelaar and Ananias Dube.
The two had very exciting times at the club with Grobbelaar snatched from Salisbury Callies rising to being a Champions League winner with Liverpool apart from a host of titles with Highlanders here and The Reds in the UK.
“Bruce was a good goalkeeper. I was a junior then and watched him a lot at Highlanders. He motivated me to take goalkeeping seriously during his time in the country. He had all the basics a goalkeeper would need,” said Nkomo.
Of Ananias Dube, the goalkeeper would inherit the number one jersey following the departure of many senior players to form Olympics at the end of 1976, Nkomo said Bosso’s history without his predecessor would be incomplete.
“He was not a big goalkeeper, but as small or short as he was he had this aura around him that made him feared by strikers. He was quite agile and a match winner on his own on his day,” said Nkomo of the 1973 Chibuku Trophy winner with Highlanders.
Dube was part of the Highlanders side to open a new leaf by winning the Chibuku Trophy and three consecutive regional titles between 1973 and 1975.
“As members of the Destruction Side as the first team was called in 1973-1976 I had two goalkeepers of great class to emulate on the field at Highlanders. I had the best there was to learn from and it made me the player I got to be,” said Nkomo the 1988 Vaseline Zimbabwe Goalkeeper of the Year.
Nkomo also played for the Zimbabwe Five-A-Side at the 1989 World Cup in Holland traveling with Brenna Msiska as the team’s goalminders.
Nkomo became the first goalkeeper from Bulawayo after Independence to appear on the calendar for Soccer Stars.
He was emerging when the 1976 split occurred as in-house squabbles rocked the club dismantling one of the greatest sides ever assembled by the club formed by King Lobengula’s grandsons in 1926 Albert and Rhodes.
Nkomo was in the reserves and enjoyed cameo roles during an era where Josiah Nxumalo, Tymon Mabaleka, Itai Chieza, Stanley Nyika, Isaac Mafaro, Lawrence Phiri, Billy Sibanda, Majuta Mpofu, Edward Dzowa and Barry Daka were household names.
Captain Oxo was lucky to develop ahead of a class that had the inimitable Madinda Ndlovu, Mercedes Sibanda, Willard Khumalo, Alexander Maseko, Dumisani Nyoni, Netsai Moyo, Ronnie Jowa, Mpumelelo Dzowa which was fused with other senior players like Tito Paketh, Douglas Mloyi, David Phiri, Fanuel Ncube, Richard Ndlovu and Titus Majola to make one of the most exciting and celebrated outfits in the history of the club.
It is remnants of this group which was the foundation of the history making 1990 side which won Highlanders its first proper national league cup, coincidentally the same year they won the unique double.
He rates among the best servants of the club and a national legend. At Bosso he played for over 17 years and is regarded highly for his loyalty and long service to the club matched by legends like Lawrence Phiri, Billy Sibanda and Douglas Mloyi who shot down approaches to join other clubs.
In an interview on the sidelines of the launch of his goalkeeping academy, Nkomo said he felt there was need to produce quality goalkeepers. He said great stars last longer and grasp basics from an early age and that his school of goalkeeping will start with kids from the age of six.
“It’s got to grow in their veins. We have to catch them young, goalkeeping is an art,” said Nkomo.
He revealed that competition among goalkeepers has to be at the highest as it is the last line of defence.
“Great teams have good goalkeepers. They are the last man in defence and ought to ooze confidence to the defence.
I had lots of competition during my time from a number of guys we had at the club like Joseph ‘Masawa’ Tembo and youngsters like Sydney Zimunya, Musawenkosi Masango, CB, my peers Smart and George Moyo,” said Captain Oxo a member of the 1980 Olympics side which had players like Tapiwa Mudyambanje and Toindepi Shaky Nyathi from Zimbabwe Saints.
Nkomo, whose contract with Ngezi Platinum juniors runs out on December 31, said he had identified assistants who will hold fort if he finds another job.
“Obviously I cannot be alone in the venture. If I do happen to get a club to coach I will continue during holidays, weekends and off-season to work on my project. I want to see Bulawayo stand out in the production of quality goalminders.”
He said with Zebroan Magorimbo, Musa Muzanenhamo, John Sibanda, Muzondiwa Mugadza, Witness Munkuli, Amon Chimbalanga, Johannes Tshuma, Phathisani Hlabangana, Grobbelaar, William Chirwa, Pernell Mckop, Ben Nzelengwe and the legendary Malalapipe
“John Walker” Chipukula, Bulawayo was cast onto the map. Sunday News.