By Langton Nyakwenda
Five years ago, Hardlife Zvirekwi ruled the local Premiership. Apart from captaining CAPS United to their fifth league title in 2016, he was also crowned the Castle Lager Soccer Star of the Year.
It’s that league championship medal that hangs on the wall in his lounge and the Soccer Star of the Year gong, which he so proudly cherishes, that have kept him pushing against all adversities since that fateful early morning of March 12, 2018.
Life has never been the same for Zvirekwi since that car accident that crushed his left arm, which had to be amputated.
Although he made international headlines, with BBC Sport’s Tarek Taalat aptly capturing Zvirekwi’s amazing perseverance after playing in the 2019 Premiership season with one hand, it all came crashing down again for the former Warriors skipper in February 2020 when he was offloaded by CAPS United.
He subsequently tried his luck at Harare City to no avail. And the advent of the coronavirus, which has stalled football for over 20 months, was another massive blow for the player, who ended up hustling just to feed his family. Now 34, Zvirekwi has resurfaced at ambitious Northern Region Division One side Simba Bhora, where he is hoping to impress coach Arthur Tutani.
The country’s second-tier league is expected to finally resume in October, and he is still determined to rise again, despite being on the wrong side of 30.
“It has been a very long lay-off and a very tough and difficult moment for me since I wasn’t attached to any club, considering that football is my line of work and also a source of livelihood.
“I had to resort to buying and selling basic commodities and engaging in some small income-generating projects just to feed my family,” he told The Sunday Mail Sport.
“I am training with Simba Bhora, hoping and praying that I will make the grade when the coaches make their final team.”
Simba Bhora owner Simba Ndoro has confirmed that his side might offer him a fresh lease of life.
“We will see how it goes. The boy has been training with the club,” he said.
Where some would give up, he has refused to give in.
He still feels he can play “at the top level”.
The defender wants his story to inspire the disabled.
“Growing up, there was a saying which goes like ‘disability is not inability’. I want to encourage some that even if you go through injuries of that magnitude, it’s not the end of the world.
“You can still break new ground if you still believe in the God-given talent bestowed on you.”
What has kept him going?
“It was quite unfortunate I suffered a career-threatening injury in that accident, but all I can say is I think it all goes down to the passion I have for football that has driven me to continue to want to play at the top level,” he said.
The desire to put food on his family’s table is pushing him not to give up.
It might be almost five years now after he won the Soccer Star of the Year award but the versatile former Gunners player vividly remembers his crowning moment on the night of December 2, 2016.
“It’s five years already; how time flies! It was quite an honour for me to be crowned Soccer Star of the Year in 2016 considering the fantastic pool of players that I played with and against,” Zvirekwi said.
His former teammates at CAPS United – Leonard Tsipa and Ronald Pfumbidzayi – were also part of the finalists in a list that also included Gift Mbweti (Hwange), Peter Muduhwa (Highlanders), Godknows Murwira (Dynamos), Petros Mhari (FC Platinum), Winston Mhango (FC Platinum), Walter Musona (FC Platinum), Clemence Matawu (Chicken Inn) and Liberty Chakoroma (Ngezi Platinum).
“I feel very humble and at the same time proud to have been a Premier League gold medallist because that silverware doesn’t come easily at all.
“For that, I am always grateful to the CAPS United family, the coaching staff, playing staff, medical staff I worked with and also the administration as well as the presidium.
“Not forgetting the fans and my family. If it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t have reached greater heights.”
Having been captain of the CHAN squad the previous year, Zvirekwi also featured for the Warriors at the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations finals in Gabon. The Sunday Mail