Mehluli Sibanda, Senior Sports Reporter
HAVING had dreadlocks for 28 years which were now part of his trademark, former Shu-Shine, Hwange as well as national team utility player Tavaka Gumbo finally decided to cut his hair for the first time at the end of last year, something he does not regret at all.
Gumbo had dreadlocks from 1988 up to November last year when he decided to cut them. He initially wanted to put the scissors through his hair in 2000 but decided against it. His family had always been against his hairstyle, something which made him finally get rid of his locks.
“I wanted a change of hairstyle just like anyone else, I had the dreadlocks from 1988. I never cut my hair since then. I wanted some fresh air for my scalp. I actually wanted to cut my locks in 2000 but thought let me continue. My family members were against me having dreadlocks since 1988,’’ said Gumbo.
After all these years of having unkempt hair, many would wonder what really happened on the day he got rid of his locks, whether he kept them like others do. Gumbo, the ninth born in a family of 11 cut the locks himself then went to the barber for a haircut. The father of eight, whose oldest child is 26 years old, said his children had also pleaded with him to get rid of his dreadlocks and he had to respect their wishes.
“My children had never seen me without locks. It’s one of the things which made me cut them, they requested that they want to see me without them. It was not a big thing, I cut my locks then went to the barber for a haircut. I never kept them, I threw them away because I didn’t want them in someone else. I feel free, I don’t regret at all,’’ said Gumbo.
On what really inspired for him to grow the locks in the first place, Gumbo, who grew up in Bulawayo’s high density suburb of Luveve pointed out that the late Jamaican musician Bob Marley’s visit to the country in 1980 played a huge role in his love for that kind of hairstyle.
Having turned out for Buchwa Mine, Shue-Shine and Hwange as a utility player who played in whatever position where he was required, Gumbo was actually a goalkeeper, a position he jettisoned when he went to Cyrene High School. He had more than 10 caps for Warriors as a midfielder.
Gumbo started coaching in 2001 as a Hwange junior mentor with his big break coming in 2004 when he got the job of Chipangano head coach, taking over the post from Weekly Mwale. When Gumbo was handed the task, Hwange were bottom of the log with only one point from 11 matches. The coal miners managed to fight and avoid relegation.
To Gumbo, saving Hwange from relegation in 2004 and winning the Zimbabwe Football Association Central Region Division One title with Hardbody in 2011 counts as his biggest achievements as a coach.
Over the years, Gumbo has coached teams such as Gaths Mine, Hardbody, Hwange, Shabanie Mine, Masvingo United, FC Windermere, Setheo, Chegutu Pirates and Makwiro Platinum. One of the highly qualified coaches in the country, Gumbo is a holder of a Confederation of African Football A Licence which he acquired in 2014. He was one of first Zimbabwean coaches to get the qualification together with Taurai Mangwiro, Rahman Gumbo, Mandla Mpofu, Takaendesa Jongwe, Luke Masomere and Philani Ncube. At the moment, only 41 local coaches have Caf A while 32 are completing the course this month.
Gumbo spent the whole of 2016 volunteering at schools in his rural area but the 48-year-old is now back in Bulawayo hunting for a job.
With Zifa putting in place stringent requirements for coaches in the Premier Soccer League, Gumbo is confident of landing a post with one of the 18 clubs.
“My chances are there to get a job, its promising, I have no preference at all. I have coached in all regions in the country.
There are 18 teams in the league, with Zifa now tough on coaching qualifications that will increase my chances of getting employment. I don’t even mind being an assistant coach,’’ said Gumbo.
Gumbo is a moderate drinker who quit smoking two years ago. He is a qualified motor mechanic, a trade he was trained for at Shu-Shine.
Having gotten rid of his dreadlocks which were weighing him down, “Dread” is looking forward to flourish as a coach if he manages to secure a job this year.