By Sikhumbuzo Moyo
Very few people have probably ever dreamt of relating to both Dynamos and Highlanders at the same time because for a football fan its either one’s blood is white and blue or simply black and white, there is no reason why sometimes it can be the other way round.
The rivalry between the two football giants is just so tense that one can actually touch it especially when these two giants, one based in Harare and the other in the City of Kings go blow by blow on the field of play. Even the players themselves will tell you that the tension before and during the match itself is just but ubearable.
I remember Siza Khoza telling me that at one time when they took on DeMbare at Barbourfields Stadium with Rahman Gumbo being the coach, there was a time where no one from those on the bench wanted to come in because ‘iDynamos yayisibuya amasupporters ethu esethule zwi’.
The most comical thing Khoza told me was that everytime Gumbo would turn to his left, probably trying to figure out who he would want to bring in and stabilise the ship which was about to sink, all the substitutes would dramatically and at the same time sit up straight so that the player on the right shields the next one on his left.
“When someone made a mistake on the pitch, we all clapped hands and encouraged him because we didn’t want the coach to make a substitution, kwakutshisa phakathi,” Khoza told me.
So with games between the two sides so tense, how does one then manages to somehow like both teams?
Bulawayo based businessman, Larrence Gwati, who runs LG Foods says while he might be a Dynamos fan, he has a serious soft spot for the Bulawayo giants largely because of the way the club is administered compared to his childhood club Dynamos.
He says administrative systems at Highlanders are just a marvel and this is what made him fall in love with them.
“I am a strong Dynamos fan, I celebrate when they win, I also frown when they lose but I must state clearly that I admire Highlanders’ way of doing business. The institution is just a lone flame in football administration darkness, I tell you at Dynamos it doesn’t surprise anyone that you get a player being signed under a tree or inside a car and the deal will be done. That is taboo at Highlanders, it never happens, whenever you are doing business with them, you go to their offices and a formal arrangement will be set, lanxa bezakuqila kodwa ubanjwa endaweni esmart,” says Gwati.
He says his wish was for all the clubs and football in general in the country to be run the way Highlanders administrators run their club, transparent and professional.
Besides being a football fan, Gwati is a known benefactor of the game in Bulawayo, having sponsored a number of teams as well as tournaments in the metropolitan province. His company, LG Foods, also used to sponsor the Man of the Match award for a Highlanders and Dynamos encounter.
“We were, just like most companies in the country, victims of the economic meltdown which saw us prioritise certain issues and making sure we survived the terrain which I think we did and so now we can safely say LG Foods will soon be returning and becoming visible in football circles and I am sure Highlanders will be our port of re-entry, lets just watch the space and see what comes out of this,” he says, once again demonstrating his penchant love for Tshilamoya.
He used to run a team, LG Vultures that competed in the Zifa Bulawayo province Division Two League and the economy took a knock when they had just been promoted to the Southern Region Division One, the country’s second tier league.
“I feel the pain whenever I think about that project but look, the situation was no longer tenable for us to continue running a football club while trying to survive as LG Foods, I however take solace in that we produced a lot of great players that we sold to a number of Premiership clubs, including endala (Highlanders) although up to now what we asked for is still on its way,” he says with a chuckle on his face.
LG Vultures gave Bosso goalkeeper Nedreck Madeya and according to Gwati, they asked for 10 soccer balls for a permanent move.
“They agreed but somehow that promise was not fulfilled, that is why I said kuBosso ubanjelwa endaweni esmart not under a tree,” he says as he sips his favourite drink.
As the interview ends, Gwati tells me that he is an unapologetic Chelsea fan in the English Premier League. The Chronicle.