By Grace Chingoma
Legendary football coach, Sunday “Mhofu” Chidzambwa, has been walking with a limp since he sustained a career-ending leg fracture playing for his beloved Dynamos in a league match against Rio Tinto in Kadoma in 1983.
A heavy clash with the goldminers’ talisman, Joseph Zulu, left Chidzambwa with a broken leg and a stellar career, which saw him captain his country at Independence, was brought to a premature end at the age of 30.
“I was 31 years old when I clashed against Joseph Zulu and suffered two broken bones just above the ankle on the right leg and, thereafter, had to quit football,” said Chidzambwa.
But, his love for football conquered that nightmare and he transformed himself into the best Zimbabwean coach of all-time, guiding his beloved Dynamos to a number of league championships and into the final of the CAF Champions League in 1998.
He also became the first coach to guide the Warriors to the AFCON finals when he broke the country’s 23-year wait to play at the continent’s biggest football showcase.
Now, at the age of 68 and slowed by both age and a physical handicap he has carried since that ill-fated clash a few years after Independence, Chidzambwa wants to do something for his country.
And, it’s not anything associated with his success stories on the football pitch given that, just a year ago, he was preparing the Warriors for the 2019 AFCON finals before leaving his role, as head coach, after the tournament.
From next week, Chidzambwa will walk 50 times the length of a football pitch, despite the challenges he has always faced with walking from the moment he suffered his horror injury, on a number of days, at a Harare sports club.
His mission is to try and raise funds for the brave front-line workers involved in the fight against COVID-19 in the country.
Even though he is 68 now, Chidzambwa says he is ready for the challenge.
“I will start on Monday and will walk again on Wednesday and then Friday. I am still organising with a local sports club and will walk the length of the football pitch for 50 times,’’ he said.
“I have never walked such a distance in a long time but I am determined to do this and I will do it on my own.
“If a centurion can do it why can’t I do it?
“I don’t have any target but I am hopeful that I would be able to raise quite a substantial amount. Football is my life and I believe that I can make a difference through it.
“I have always been someone whom people look up to make a change, whether during the time when I was captain of the national team, coaching Dynamos or coaching the Warriors.
“I have to be seen to be playing a part, as and when something affects our country, to make a difference and this COVID-19 thing has hit us hard and changed the way we have viewed life in the past.
“A lot of people and companies have come on board to help our country in these trying times and I felt that I should also do my part, and if I can raise funds towards this cause, then it will be worthwhile.’’
Chidzambwa said a team of chartered accountants will handle the funds.
“The whole idea is to raise money and if I had lots of money I would have donated to the cause but the reality is that I don’t have such kind of money and I can only appeal to those who want to help to come on board,’’ said Chidzambwa.
“We can only win the war against this pandemic if we are united as a nation, this is not about Sunday, or anyone else, this is about our country, the one that we love with all our hearts.
“It’s about our kids, who are the future of the country, the people who will be the stars of the game and we have to ensure that we provide the conditions where their future can be guaranteed.’’
The former Warriors coach said he was inspired by a British World War II veteran, Tom Moore, who raised more than US$30 million by walking laps in his garden aided by a walking frame. Moore completed his mission of walking 100 lengths of his 25-meter back garden ahead of his 100th birthday on April 30, to raise money for the country’s National Health Service.
“His story really inspired me and, considering his age, I was challenged that I can also do something and, in the process, play a part in helping the vulnerable health workers, especially in the marginalised areas,’’ said Chidzambwa.
“They are at high risk and at times don’t have the adequate PPEs.’’ The Herald