By Grace Chingoma
Former Warriors leftback, Charles Yohane, is nursing heartbreak after the developmental project, at Bidvest Wits crumbled, leaving him jobless.
He holds the record for appearances at the club after playing for them 268 times, over a period stretching between 1997 and 2006.
Wits sold their franchise to TTM, who will take the first team to Polokwane and change the name, as from next season.
The development team and the age group teams from Under-13 to the Under-17, have been shut down.
“Until now, it is not in the papers, people don’t know what happened to Bidvest,’’ he said.
“We are still in shock, Wits are known for producing youngsters, they said they sold the status, so they are shutting down the academy, pulling out of everything.
“So, we have had to give youngsters, in tears, clearance letters to join any team of their choice.
“Unfortunately, it also affected us and we are now jobless. We are getting small packages to go forward in life.’’
The former Warriors defender said their project groomed quite a number of players in the South African Premiership.
“I joined the project in 2008 but, eight months later, because there was a stint I had at FC AK, to play in First Division, then l came back to be a player/coach.
“I was playing, and coaching, in the reserves of which we produced a lot of players like Sibusiso Vilakazi.
“A whole lot of players in South Africa went through the Wits ranks and l am proud that l was part of that development.
“It was my wish, that’s why l stayed at the club for ten years, my aim was ‘when l retire here l would love to work in the development structures.’
“There is nothing we can do, it is life, so we have to live with it.
“But people just broke us down with the news. They are taking the first team, and development is shutting down, it is unfortunate but it’s life.’’
Yohane, who has been based in South Africa for the past 23 years, said he is moving on and has teamed up with former Zimbabwe international Innocent Chikoya.
“Maybe, one day l might come and coach, l would love to do that. It is always nice to come back (home),’’ he said.
“But, sometimes, you are forced to look at the environment where you see there is money being put into your profession, where you can work and develop, as a coach.
“l am more like a South African than a Zimbabwean, this is where my life has been for the past 24 years since 1995, although in 1996, I was briefly back with CAPS United.
“I am still available to serve my country.’’
The Wits legend went down memory lane.
“When I joined Wits, it was just an average team and was white-dominated,’’ he said.
“There were a few black guys, mostly senior guys near retirement, veterans Marks Maponyane, Sipho Sikonde.
‘’You would see it on match day, you would be surprised to find ten white guys and one black guy.
‘’When I joined the club, I just became the guy who was a regular black guy, so, sometimes, we would play ten white players and one black guy, and l was that one black guy.
“All the changes happened whilst I was still at Wits, the coaching of the coaches, playing style, all the other juniors who started coming through.’’
The coming in of coach Roger De Sa changed a lot.
“We used to play together, he was our goalkeeper,’’ he said. “He took over as a coach, I think, around 2001-02.
“Most of the white guys were retiring because, that time, it was semi-professional, we were training in the evening and these guys had jobs.
“Roger had his own style of play, built a team with a better style of play and could create more goals because we couldn’t rely on long balls and set pieces.
“So, from 2002, things changed and, also, with the introduction of Alois (Bunjira) and Stewart Murisa coming through, with my homeboys, we could form deadly partnership.
“Our combination was so deadly, and the language became an advantage for us because we could speak in Shona, confusing the opposition, including our teammates.
“But, they were just happy because, at the end, we would score goals and create chances.
“From being an average team, Wits was playing in the top five and ending up finishing third, fourth.
“Unfortunately, in 2005, we ended up being relegated when they decided to change players and change positions.’’
Yohane has no doubts he was a vital cog in the team and also captained the side.
“The team was very competitive but we couldn’t win the league as we had youngsters coming into the team every year,’’ he said.
“As a captain, l wasn’t really a commanding, talkative kind of guy but l would do the job and deliver.
“My first game as a captain, I was man-of-the-match. l scored two goals and we beat Mugeyi’s team.
“We went on to play 13 games without a loss and had 11 wins.
“So, it was the beginning of the new Wits, it was an honour.’ The Herald