By Lovemore Dube
HIGHLANDERS FC life member Martin Chikwana believes sport has the ability to build bridges in communities and bring people from different backgrounds together.
He says there is no room for any –isms in football or any other discipline.
Chikwana who has spent 90 percent of his life in Manicaland is proud to be a Highlanders member.
“Sport is a powerful global tool that brings society together. It brings people from all sorts of backgrounds to one place and seeks to bring about harmony and happiness to our communities, it gives us hope and self-belief as we indulge as players and fans.
“I have followed Highlanders from the early 1980s when I got to know most of the guys through the Coca-Cola inter-provincial championships for Under-18s.
“I was part of the Manicaland squad in 1983 and was able to play against guys like Mercedes Sibanda, Willard Khumalo, Garikayi Rwodzi and Godfrey Paradza.
“When they broke into the first teams of their clubs, national Under-20 and Warriors, I was happy to see a generation of players I knew make the grade.
“That Highlanders team of the 1980s which had Rambo, Madinda Ndlovu, Tito Paketh, Douglas Mloyi and other great stars, made me follow the team. I would listen to commentaries on radio or watch it on television,” said Chikwana.
He said what that also drew him to the club was the deep traditions and culture inherent that have made the club last this far.
“I lived most of my life in Chipinge and Mutare. I have been here since 2012 and I draw similarities between the people here and in Manicaland. They love their culture and will stick to anything that they attach value to through all storms. Ndaus are a loving people and I find the same here in Bulawayo and I have no regret for moving to this city and supporting Highlanders.
“I am Shona but I am black and white in my heart and whenever I can when the club calls for help, I jump around and get things going in my own small way.
“As club members of a community team expectations are we should always look at the way in which the club’s sustenance can be guaranteed.
“The community team model must evolve into something that empowers the brand. Highlanders is a big team with a lot of untapped potential that should be explored for the benefit of the brand and future generations. It has supporters all over the world and should not suffer,” said Chikwana.
He said his son who is 10 years old is a keen Bosso supporter and dreams of playing for the club.
Chikwana says being Shona and a Bosso supporter has its own challenges.
“I want to bring my whole family and friends to the games. Imagine if the environment was family friendly, we would fill up Barbourfields Stadium by coming in numbers as families. Now my fear is the songs and tribal chants which are not good for the family.
“I love the club and it gives me the satisfaction that I look for. Coming from the corporate sector, I am happy the club is able to hold an annual general meeting, extra-ordinary general meeting and even has audited accounts at the end of the year, something that some entities struggle on.
“It is this culture that the club must rise up to and seek to grow beyond the basket case environment,” said Chikwana.
Growing up, lanky Chikwana quit playing football because of that and tried his hand in refereeing where he was top of the class in a group that had former Fifa referees Kenny Marange and Masimba Chihowa.
“We were trained by Nelson Chirwa and I went as far as Class Two before other commitments and my brief stay in the United Kingdom stopped me from pursuing refereeing,” said Chikwana.
He believes the coaching department and executive deserve support as they are working in a very difficult environment where “super” results are expected week in, week out.
Chikwana has travelled to all cities and towns with Premier League football with his beloved Highlanders.
“I rarely miss a Highlanders game, be it at home or away. I have been to Kariba, Vengere, Mutare, Hwange, you name it to cheer the boys,” said CK Holland Auctioneers executive who is also the vice-president of the Zimbabwe Golfers Association. Sunday News