‘When I quit smoking my fortunes changed’: Ex-Bata Power player opens up on career

by Sunday News Online | Sunday, Apr 15, 2018 | 169 views

Thomas Sandram1

Danisa Masuku

Former Bata Power FC player Thomas Sandram reveals that he was born in Mozambique and in his early childhood years his father relocated to Zambia. He reveals that his father was not clear whether they are Mozambican or Zambians until he died.

Sandram reveals that as a result he is at cross-roads about his identity.

“My late father once told me that his parents settled in Mozambique and they relocated to Zambia and he was not sure whether he was a Mozambican or Zambian,” he reveals to Sunday Life Sport.

He says they came to settle in Zimbabwe and as such he is now Zimbabwean. He says when he received a national team call-up the coach thought he was a coloured.

“Because of my surname Sandram when I received an Under-20 national team call-up the coach Micky Pool thought I was coloured and he was shocked to learn that I’m not,” he says.

And there is something interesting that happened during training with the Under-20 national team.

“I arrived in camp on a Tuesday and there was a defender who was wearing a red T-shirt. On the following day I wore that defender’s red T-shirt and the coach mistook me for that guy, he ordered me to play in defence and in all my games with the national team I would play as a defender but at my club I would play as a striker,” he shares.

That national team was made of the class that set the football scene alight with their magical football touch that proved nothing but the best. It had the likes of Madinda Ndlovu, James Takavada, Willard Khumalo, Benedict Moyo, David Zulu, Machona Sibanda, Japhet Muparutsa, Rynos Mapfumo, Zakaria Chironda, Boy Ndlovu, Stanley Ndunduma, David Mwanza, Charles Chirwa, Sebastian Chikwature, Lucky Dube and Richard Simpson, among others.

He says he did not face any challenges being played as a forward or defender.

“I don’t know how I did it. But somehow I managed to adapt and gave my all in my club and the national team matches,” he shares.

The Under-20 national team coach Micky Pool spotted him in a game against Gweru United reserve side.

“I was the only player from Masvingo who charmed Pool and I accepted that with honour and pride,” he recalls.

While he was turning out for United Aces Sandram secured a job at the Ministry of Water and Energy where he worked as a stores clerk.

A match that goes down as his best was when he had just quit smoking after his form had taken a dip.

“I used to abuse drugs and used to smoke a lot, as a result my form plunged. As such I was benched for more than four games. After that I took a stern decision to quit drugs and smoking. Then I had to focus on improving my game and it improved,” he says.

He says after some matches his coach made him the captain.

“I captained the side for two seasons and I did not face any challenges since all the players co-operated,” he says.

He goes on to say a match between his side and Rio Tinto goes down as his memorable game.

“I had to give my best in that match and I scored a brace, as a result we won the match courtesy of my two goals,” he says.

However, one of his worst games was when he was turning out for Bata Power when they were mauled by a red hot Dynamos.

“We were beaten 8-0 by a strong Dynamos side at Gwanzura Stadium and that DeMbare side had Moses Chunga, Gift Mupariwa, Edward Katswere, David Mandigora and Kenneth Jere,” he shares.

However, his worst game was when his side beat Dynamos in the return leg of the Super League match.

“It was in 1984 at our fortress Ascot Stadium, we beat Dynamos 2-1. Towards the dying minutes of the game Dynamos supporters started to pelt missiles onto the pitch and we had to be escorted off the field by police who left us in town, that scenario remains one of the worst moments in my footballing career,” he recalls.

He says one of the players who gave him a torrid time was Titus Majola.

“It was difficult to match his pace as he could run for 90 minutes non-stop and was a deadly midfielder,” he recalls.

Had it been not for the career ending injury during national duty with Under -20 national team, the former Bata Power FC forward was going to don senior national team colours.

He is still bitter about that training session that marked the end of his footballing career.

“It was during a training session where I clashed against our defender and sustained a fracture on the left leg and that was the end of my career in 1986,” he remembers.

One could be asking where his career started?

His footballing career started at Donbosco Primary School when he was just 7 years old. He attended Zimuto Secondary School and has good memories of those years.

“When I enrolled at Zimuto Secondary School I started playing football and I was a striker,” he recalls.

He says during school holidays he would turn out for a Division One outfit Mucheke Colts. He reveals that before long Mucheke Colts merged with Sari’s FC and formed United Aces FC. He says he spent a season with the side.

He says “I used to score goals and because of that I earned the nickname “Dancing shoes” because I was a free scorer.”

He says in 1981 United Aces had to disband after their sponsor pulled out.

While he was contemplating his next move the late Morrison Sifelani who was the Hippo Valley coach invited him to try his luck at his side.

He snapped up the opportunity and spent two seasons with the side. He then joined Bata Power FC in 1980.

Fact File

He was born in 1962 in a family of six children —three boys and three girls.

He is married to Agatha. The couple was blessed with five children namely Nokutenda (1), Chinevimbo (4), Rumbidzai (30), Liona (33 and Fiona (36).

The couple fellowships at Dutch Reformed Church. He bought a house in Mkoba 14 suburb Gweru.

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