By Moffat Mungazi
At just 26, Mutare-born footballer, Liberty Chakoroma has enjoyed a colourful and eventful career others can only dream of.
Along the way, the talented player has picked up both individual and team accolades since turning professional almost a decade ago.
After starting out in the youth system of famed junior football development nursery La Sakubva, Chakoroma took his toddler’s steps at a higher level of the game with Zimbabwe National Army side, Buffaloes.
Born on February 28, 1994, the utility player has almost seen it all. He enjoyed his first taste of Premiership action as an 18-year-old teenager at the Mutare-based army outfit in 2012. Chakaroma wore the armband at his hometown club.
While turning out for the modest top-flight league side, he broke into the national youth team and captained the Under-23 side under the tutelage of Jairos Tapera and later Kallisto Pasuwa.
At 21, the football gods smiled at him and handed him the symbolic “21st Key” to open the doors of his future and venture into the broad horizon.
At the juncture of his career, Chakoroma trekked south of Limpopo and joined the then Premiership side, the Free State Stars, in 2015.
While others have spent their whole careers without attracting any foreign interest, Chakoroma did that in his teens.
That short stint in the SupaDiski was, however, fruitless.
His season-long stay in South Africa was followed by a switch back to Ngezi Platinum Stars back home the following year.
It was at the Mhondoro miners that he brought arguably his A-game to date.
As skipper, he led them to a podium procession for the Chibuku Super Cup triumph. Top-scoring in the tournament, Chakoroma was also adjudged the competition’s best player.
He was duly named Madamburo’s players’ player of the year.
Putting the icing on the cake was his crowning moment was making the 2016 soccer star of the year finalists’ cast.
He describes that year’s output as his stellar season so far.
“Without doubt, I achieved a lot during that period. It easily ranks as the best spell of my career to date.
“I scored some important goals at that time and also represented my country at both youth and senior level.
“This continues to inspire me to push harder and achieve more,” Chakoroma told Post Sport.
In 2017, the gangly star helped Zimbabwe qualify for their third appearance at the Africa Cup of Nations finals under Pasuwa.
For two successive years, Chakoroma was part of the Warriors team which scooped back-to-back Cosafa Cup honours in 2017 and 2018 under the guidance of Zimbabwe’s celebrated and most decorated gaffer, Sunday “Mhofu” Chidzambwa.
Having distinguished himself well on other fronts over the years, the talented defender-cum-midfielder is now relishing clinching the domestic championship.
The local top-tier division’s coveted prize has remained elusive for him. For him, a league crown would be a mark of distinction to add another string to his bow.
“I am happy with the course my career has followed.
“It has taken me places and I am grateful for the opportunities l got at various teams under different coaches.
“That has helped shape and improve my game over the years.
“From being a club captain to a skipper with the Young Warriors and briefly playing abroad, I cherish all that.
“I also have several accolades to show for my sweat on the pitch. That makes me really proud.
“However, I feel the story of my career will not be a complete success if l don’t win the Premiership.
“This is the only piece of silverware I am yet to win.
“Representing my country at youth and senior levels has been fulfilling, but winning the championship will be fantastic.
“I am relishing lifting the big one. My deepest desire is to be crowned a champion of the Zimbabwean top-flight league. I yearn to earn that gold medal,” said Chakoroma.
Now aged 26, Chakoroma believes joining Bulawayo-based side Chicken Inn was the right move.
The versatile footballer feels he can fulfil his dream of immersing himself in league glory with the former champions.
At the Gamecocks, Chakoroma is primed to turn the corner under coach Joey “Mafero” Antipas, a two-time league winner with his current club (2015) and Motor Action (2010).
He is keeping fingers crossed that football resumes next year. Chakoroma’s prayer is for the number 21 to repeat its magic, since it was at that age that he played abroad.
“I am faithful that it can be done (winning the championship).
“Hopefully, my long-nursed dream comes to fruition in 2021.
“After finishing second in the marathon last season, we are geared to take the next step. I am longing for a positive outcome. The standards I have set in the past always challenge me to work harder.
“I am motivated to beat my own records,” he said.
While itching to play himself back into the national team selection, the versatile star is still keen on securing a switch abroad.
Said the towering footballer: “I am more mature now and can handle myself better if foreign teams come knocking. The fact that Clive Augusto, Elvis Chipezeze and Danny Phiri made their moves to South Africa while playing for Chicken Inn spurs me on.”
The gifted footballer reserved special mention for his mother, Luckia Chakoroma, citing her as a pillar of strength who has always stood by him.
He also credited his youth coach, Timothy “Sicho” Masachi, for mentoring him in the formative years of his blossoming career.
Chakaroma draws inspiration from Aston Villa’s Zimbabwe international midfielder, Marvellous Nakamba. The Manica Post