Allan Foti in Shurugwi
THE gold and chrome mining enclave of Shurugwi in the Midlands stands on the brink of history!
The town lies in well wooded, hilly and picturesque country. Shurugwi, formerly Selukwe is a town and administrative centre in Midlands Province, Southern Zimbabwe. The town was established in 1899 on the Selukwe goldfield, which itself was discovered in the early 1890s, not long after the annexation of Rhodesia by the Pioneer Column.
Shurugwi is equally renowned for its scenic landscape that includes the famous Boterekwa escapement and gorges, as it is for its notoriously violent artisanal miners (omakorokoza). But all that has quickly changed, the common denominator in the frequently fractured community is a football club that is barely two years old.
The town was established in the 1890s but has never had a top flight football club despite having had active football clubs such as Zimasco and Peak Mine for time immemorial. Teams from Shurugwi have consistently failed to compete in respective Division One leagues and earn promotion into the top flight.
And this despite having produced footballers of note like include Gibson Homela, James Takavada, Kingstone Rinemhota and Asani Nhongo who proved their worth among the best in the land.
Today Nicholas Gara and his Nichrut Football Club have united the town which now dares to dream of a place at the high table of local football: the Castle Lager Premiership.
Sunday Life Sport visited the mining town to take a closer look at this football heritage and what the last four games of the Central Region Division One League could mean for its community.
Gara is the principal sponsor, owner and club president and wants to become the first man to bring Dynamos, Highlanders, Caps United et al to Shurugwi for a competitive Premiership match. Himself a Dynamos fan from his youth, he has vowed to leave no stone unturned to see his dream fulfilled and is willing to even wait one more year to make it a reality.
His Nichrut are currently fighting for top prize with Whawha and Tongogara with all three teams having real chances of glory. Gara is very aware of the challenge at hand but has promised to back his team to the hilt next season should they drop ball in this campaign.
“I want to bring the PSL to Shurugwi and I would love to do it this year, but I am aware of the challenge of Tongogara and Whawha. If we don’t make it this year, I promise you that we will be back next year stronger and hungrier,” Gara told Sunday Life Sport.
The Nichrut president said he wants his team to play their home games in Shurugwi, revealing that he and his executive will work on improving their Peak Mine Stadium in preparation for the PSL should they win the league and are promoted to the top tier.
After finishing 8th in their first season in 2016, Nichrut brought in former Chapungu coach, John Nyikadzino to steer the ship to the Promised Land.
The experienced Nyikadzino then went about building a side with the capacity and pedigree to challenge the top teams in the league and brought in players like Asani Nhongo who has played for Caps United and is also the club’s captain and Martin Vimisai.
According to Gara, Nichrut was born out of the ashes of a Divison Two side called Rusco from his rural home of Rusununguko in Chachacha. Rusco played in Division Three and earned promotion to Division Two at which point its leadership approached him for financial assistance. Gara said when the side started playing in Division Two, they were offered a Division One franchise by Todal Mine who had indicated that they were not in a position to continue with their project.
“I became involved with football first with my hometown Rusco which played in Division Three and Two. When we were in Division Two, Todal offered their franchise to us and we gladly took it. That’s how we began playing in the Central Region last year,” Gara revealed.
Asked about his allegiance should his beloved Dynamos make history and play Nichrut in Shurugwi, Gara laughed and replied: “My blood will always be blue, but on that day, Dynamos will be the furthest thing from my mind. I will do whatever it takes to ensure Nichrut takes three points from DeMbare.”
Gara’s executive comprises Lazarus Manzini (chairman), Edward Matsika (vice-chairman), Admire Hapazari (secretary-general), and Naughty Mazenge (committee member) while Lazarus Chigwangwazi is the welfare manager.
Gara hopes Nichrut’s promotion to the premier league will not just bring football to Shurugwi, but will also improve business in the town as more and more people travel to watch their teams playing against Nichrut in the Premiership.