By Tadious Manyepo
He stashes all match day tickets he purchases in a big locker in his house. Each ticket is accompanied by a date-stamped photograph and the result of that particular game.
For the past seven years, CAPS United supporter, Tafadzwa “Willo” Phiri, has never missed any Green Machine league match in Zimbabwe.
With his modest earnings from his job as a barber, Phiri has kept a permanent seat on the terraces at all CAPS United league matches in Zimbabwe since 2013.
“From the records that I have, I haven’t missed a match involving CAPS United, in the league, for the past seven years,” he says with a smile.
“The good thing is I keep records. I have all the tickets of every match that I have attended and a date stamped picture to go with it.
“I also have newspaper cuttings for all CAPS United results.
“Maybe, I have only failed to attend some Cup games but not a league match involving Makepekepe.”
Phiri started supporting the Green Machine when he was six while growing up in Mhondoro.
He didn’t even know any CAPS United player, let alone the colour the team wore.
But, after he inquired from his father, who was working in Harare, he gathered Makepekepe were the fiercest rivals to Dynamos, a club his father supported.
“So, I just thought CAPS United would be good to support. That’s how my father started taking me to their games back in 2003 and 2004.
“My dream was always the same – to play for CAPS United if I made it or, if I can’t, then I would support them and travel with them everywhere.”
But, Phiri was always bound to have problems with his addiction for the game.
His marriage almost collapsed in its early stages in 2017 when the wife demanded he stopped travelling for the team’s away matches.
“She didn’t object my supporting CAPS United but she didn’t like me to travel for matches outside Harare citing expenses.
“She was absolutely right but then I had told her, long before we got married, that my life revolves around CAPS United.
“She eventually accepted that, indeed, I love the team and she even helps me craft the budget for my travel.”
Phiri has met a lot of obstacles but he cannot just stop following his team.
He had to remove his CAPS United replica jersey, and stash it in his pants, when all hell broke loose at Ascot in CAPS United’s match against Nichrut two years ago.
Trouble started when Makepekepe rallied from 0-3 down to score four goals in the second half.
“It was hell. The machete-wielding Nichrut supporters were attacking anyone with a green shirt. Luckily, I had a vest inside so I just removed and hid my green jersey in the pants.
“But, I still had to run for my dear life. There are so many incidents which we have met along the journey.
“I 2018, I was hit by a vehicle while crossing the road when CAPS United had just lost to Harare City. I was absent-minded, I think, and suffered minor injuries since the driver was not speeding…”
Phiri, who was one of the pioneer members in a CAPS United group that used to reward the team’s best player every month, says he might have used resources worth a house in the high density suburbs since 2013.
But, he does not have any regrets. The Herald