SOUVENIRS come in different shapes and forms from medals, trophies to sports memorabilia and for former Mzilikazi High School headmaster Cuthbert Chiromo ita��s a Toyota Cressida. A�
Owning an autographed football jersey by Warriors legend Peter Ndlovu, Adam Ndlovu and the late Benjamin Nkonjera is part of Chiromoa��s bragging rights.
Ita��s no secret Chiromo nurtured the three soccer stars in their budding careers at Mzilikazi High School when the schoolboys mesmerised their way into football stardom.
Chiromo has something special that reminds him of the Ndlovu brothers and Nkonjera. AA� Toyota Cressida sedan that he used to ferry Nsukuzonke, Adamski and Makanaky together with other boys to football tournaments in the late 1980s.
He recalls: a�?It was a headmastera��s car that I used to ferry the likes of Peter Ndlovu to football matches. Ita��s a car that many soccer stars will relate to. I bought it in 1987 and the car has sentimental value,a�? said Chiromo.
Nicknamed, Zagallo after famed Brazilian former footballer and manager who played as a forward, Chiromo added:
a�? Ia��m still driving the car. It will be very painful to part with that car. I possess a lot of memories even the likes of Johannes Ngodzo and Vusa Nyoni know a lot about the Toyota Cressida. I used to ferry about eight team players and the rest would board a commuter omnibus that was owned by a teacher at Mzilikazi High, a Mr Ndlovu.a�?
Ngodzo an ex-Highlanders and Warriors midfield magician vividly remembers their a�?school busa�?.
a�?Ita��s a car that everyone wished to board. We are very much grateful to Chiromo, a headmaster who loved soccer so much. He was very passionate about the game and he continuously urged us to consider juggling academics with sports,a�? said Ngodzo.
When Mzilikazi won the 1999 Copa Coca-Cola, so excited was their headmaster, Chiromo, that he left some of his clothes at a Bindura Hotel.
Mzilikazi had defeated Bernard Mizeki College 1-0 in the final played at SOS Hermann Gmeiner with the goal scored by Joseph Ngwenya. Ngwenya went on to play football in the United States.
The Bulawayo school had won the inaugural tournament in 1989 and were victorious again in 1993.
In total Mzilikazi have been crowned champions of the countrya��s most prestigious schools soccer tournament four times, a record they share with Hippo Valley. The last conquest for Mgandane came in 2001.
All the four titles for Mzilikazi came when Chiromo was the schoola��s headmaster.
a�?When we won the Coca-Cola tournament in 1999 I was so excited that I left some of my clothes at a Bindura hotel. My wife is the one who discovered when she was unpacking my bag. I had to phone my brother in Harare to go and pick up my clothes,a��a�� Chiromo said.
For him, winning the Copa Coca-Cola meant a lot as that pleased a lot of people and put the school on the map.
He showed his appreciation to Coca-Cola for the wonderful work that the worlda��s biggest beverage company is doing in developing sporting talent in Zimbabwe.
a�?Winning a competition like that made everyone happy, you put the name of your school on the map and you also created a chance for the young ones to show their talent, to be noticed. This is where the likes of Peter Ndlovu, Benjamin Nkonjera got to be noticed and for that I think we should applaud Coca-Cola, they are ploughing back to the community and that also benefits the nation,a��a�� he said.
Chiromo, headmaster of Mzilikazi from September 1989 until end of 2002,A� refuses to take all the credit for the schoola��s success in the Copa Coca-Cola.
a�?The credit there, I must be honest, doesna��t belong just to one person. It was team effort. There was me of course to drive and try get things moving, I had my vision. I love soccer,A� that is the first thing, you cannot give what you dona��t have. Fortunately I got to Mzilikazi High School where the suburb surrounding the school is full of soccer players,a��a�� Chiromo said.
With other headmasters not really focusing on sport at the time, Chiromo made sure that he maximised by bringing the best talent to Mzilikazi.
a�?At the time there were a few headmasters who were in my position who appreciated soccer. I may go on to say very few of them knew where their sporting fields were. Because of my interest many parents who had children in other schools, when they realised the talent of their child was not being appreciated in the school they ended up bringing those kids to Mzilikazi High School,a��a�� Chiromo said.
As the head in charge of soccer in the province, Chiromo took time to scout but insists that he never used any underhand tactics in getting players from other schools as proper channels were followed.
Meanwhile, the Copa Coca- Cola provincial finals will take place in all the countrya��s 10 provinces on 29 June.
The provincial winners will join the defending champions Rusununguko and Chidyamakono for the national finals in Zvishavane from 12 to 14 July.