By Onward Gangaita
Although he now resides over 12 000 kilometres away in the United Kingdom, Maxwell “MaRhino” Dube still follows his beloved Chapungu United with keen interest.
It pains Dube to see his former side always fighting relegation when in fact Waru Waru has the potential to fight for honours.
During Dube’s time at the Gweru-based side, Chapungu used to be a formidable team in the late 90s and early 2000s.
At the height of his playing days, Dube was crowned the 2001 Soccer Star of the Year after an incredible season with the Air Force of Zimbabwe (AFZ)-owned side.
But in recent years, Chapungu have suffered at least two relegations and for the past three seasons, their Premiership status was only being secured in the dying stages of the campaign.
Dube believes Chapungu need to heavily invest in junior development in order to be competitive in the Castle Lager Premiership.
Speaking to the Daily News on Sunday from his Leicester base in the UK, the former Warriors forward expressed his undying love for Chapungu but said he is worried at the way the club’s fortunes continue to plummet.
“Chapungu is where my legacy is so I always get worried when the team loses matches,” he said.
“I do follow the local league from now and then; I always keep in touch with guys like Phillip Marufu and they always keep me posted about news to do with the team and it’s worrying when the results are bad.”
Chapungu is one of the oldest teams in the Premiership together with Dynamos, CAPS United, Highlanders and returnees Hwange.
The club has failed to assert itself in the local league often times fighting relegation each season, and in the last five seasons, the side’s best finish has been a 9th position in 2015.
Waru Waru was this week named together with FC Platinum, Harare City and Chicken Inn as the only four teams that failed to meet the February 22 transfer deadline for player registration set by the Premier Soccer League (PSL).
The club’s pre-season has been shambolic with head coach Rodwell Dhlakama away in Eswatini reportedly sorting out personal issues.
Their recruitment has been in quandary with only Gracious Muleya and Tinashe Balazaki being the only additions, while the side has had to rely on loan returnees such as strikers Patrick Khumbula and Tineyi Chitora.
The AFZ side lost promising striker Clive Rupiya to Harare giants CAPS United and veteran midfielder James Jam to top flight debutants TelOne FC.
Dube opines that the club needs to return to its junior policy because it does not have the financial muscle to compete on the transfer market for the best players.
“It will be hard for Chapungu to win trophies because they do not have the foundation of football that is the junior policy,” he said.
“They rely on trials and offer players jobs in the Air Force.
“The club needs to put more funding on the grassroots level and appoint qualified coaches to develop talent that is there in the Gweru community,” he said.
The former Chapungu star player reminisces about his debut for Waru Waru as a fresh-faced teenager at a packed Rufaro Stadium against Dynamos 26 years ago.
“My debut is one match I will never forget, it was a big game considering my age, I was still doing my “O” Levels at Ascot High in 1993 and it was a match against Dynamos at a packed Rufaro,” he recalled.
“The nerves got to me but it was one of my best games and it was such an honour to play against such greats as Francis Shonhai, and Vitalis Takawira.”
Dube would go on to have a glittering career that took him to Hellenics FC and FC Fortune in South Africa and is a cult hero at his boyhood club Chapungu, he also represented the Warriors with aplomb.
As a player who was given a chance as a teenager, Dube is also having a hand in nurturing talent in his home town Gweru where he has set up the MaRhino 7 Juniors FC.
“My passion is on junior development that is why I have MaRhino 7 Juniors Football Club back in Gweru, as the director of the club my dream is to have few players come out of the community and play in Europe,” he said.
“There is a lot of talent being put to waste and I wish to make my dreams come true. Daily News