The crook that sneaked away with the soccer prize money

Dumisani Kufaruwenga

Word was sent to the Mguzumbi Village boys that the Chivi Village team was ready to demolish them in a soccer match.

And Mguzumbi boys took the bait.

Little did Mguzumbi Village boys know that the Chivi Village boys were no longer the walkover team they always ran roughshod over in every rural soccer season which started when all crops were in and ended when the rain fell and the plough plunged the earth.

The underdogs had done their homework, and for once, fervently believed the 0, 15 cents price money would be theirs for the keeping.

They had trained, they had practiced, and they had built morale higher than that of the guerrilla fighters who fought a war of attrition that resulted in Zimbabwe’s independence in 1980.

Victory was certain.

The venue was Mabedzenge Primary School grounds; the kick-off time was 10 am.

And as usual, the game started one hour later, but it was happening, the 15 cents price money under the custody of Washi Matondo below the big Muchakata tree.

Washi was the obvious custodian of the price money. He was a sweet talker. He loved the game of soccer but was himself hopeless at it.

As usual, there was no referee. There was no timekeeper. The teams would change goals when one goal was scored, and the game would end whenever the leading team scored its second goal, no matter how long this took.

Chivi Village boys were more purposeful, with Shepherd ‘Samambukwa’ making dangerous forays into enemy territory, and Mudhakera and Munyaradzi ‘Shava’ putting up an impregnable ruthless defense at the rear.
There was a goalmouth scramble, and Nhamo (Shona word for poverty) converted the first goal for the Chivi Village team.

Nhamo has now changed his name to Modreck Chivi and has a top job in Cape Town, South Africa. But I digress.
After Nhamo’s goal, the teams changed goal-scoring posts. Chivi Village, with their one-goal advantage, were now attacking the dip tank side facing Tongogara Growth point, which was named after the great hero himself who led the guerrilla fighters to Zimbabwe’s victorious independence in 1980.

And just like in Zimbabwe’s guerrilla warfare, the village boys dribbled and tackled and wrestled each other for the ball. After all, 15 cents of prize money was at stake. Someone had to win it.

‘Kojak’, the Chivi Village strategist won the ball in midfield. He swerved, he shoved, he deceived his opponents, all the time retaining possession of the ball and looking for an opening.

And there it was, Lovemore was sprinting on the left flank, screaming for the ball. With composure, Kojak placed the ball in Lovemore’s direction of travel.

As he met the ball, Lovemore powered a left-footer at the Mguzumbi Village goalkeeper. The Mguzumbi goalkeeper was a brave man. He stood his ground and blocked Lovemore’s vicious shot and the ball trickled back into play.

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