The Sunday News
Yester year greats with Lovemore Dube
VITALIS Kamocha had his peers calling him Archie because of the vast talent he exhibited in his early teens. Archie was shortened name for one of the most talented footballers ever to emerge from this country – Archieford Chimutanda.
Chimutanda remains a revered football personality decades after his demise. A football genius who gained notoriety for his off the field antics that matched the brilliant footballer he was for country, Arcadia, Bata Power, Black Aces and Dynamos.
But unlike his childhood hero Kamocha was every coach’s dream player, hard working, disciplined and a fighter on the field. Impressed by his work ethic, big match temperament and chest control that many remember greats like Tymon Mabaleka, Chimutanda, David Dididi Khumalo, Stix M’tizwa for. Kamocha played football throughout his school life making it into the senior teams at both primary and secondary schools.
Gifted with good ball control, vision, game reading, sportsmanship, superb dribbling skills and the knack of scoring from range, his work was cut out for a career with Wankie FC later to change to Hwange FC. He had grown up watching the home side with a number of greats from his Lwendulu Village neighbourhood, the backbone of the Colliery side that had Rodrick Simwanza, Amos Rendo, Isaac Phiri, Nyaro Mumba, David Khumalo, Leonard Tembo, Barton Mwalukuka, SkevaPhiri, Jimmy Sibanda, Philemon Nyathi, Gideon Zulu, David Zulu and Machona Sibanda.
Like a number of the boys of his generation being a ball boy at the team’s training sessions and on match day allowed him to be up and close to the legends to trigger more interest in the game from the late 1970s when he was in the mid grades of his primary school days at St Ignatius in Hwange, a school celebrated under Msindazi Dlodlo and Cephas Tshuma for academic and sporting excellency.
The 52-year-old was among a generation of youngsters that benefitted from a two decade deliberate support for junior development by Wankie Colliery Company. Schools played a league format with home and away ties. The competition allowed players to exhibit their skills unlike today when teams play knockout competitions with either half as brief as 15 minutes. “Growing up in Hwange there was so much interest in football. It was two ways, either we play or go and watch seniors,” said Kamocha.
He was lucky to compete with talented peers from Grade Four in the junior teams in the primary schools league. “In our early teens we were introduced to local league football and we improved our game. We were able to compete basically with our age mates. Those who went to other secondary schools would come back during holidays to play in Wafa (Wankie Amateur Football Association). Life was about football and sport since the town had fewer options for kids with the other being athletics,” said Kamocha. At secondary school he benefitted from playing football at least five times a week. He started off as a goalkeeper for Mzilikazi in the Marist Brothers, Dete inter-house league.
He wanted to play football but as a Form One pupil who could just volunteer for what seemed the only vacant position in the team. But after Form Two he went back to his holding position and would break into the school team at times campaigning on the right, as there were two other equally good players Willie Milazi and Mathias Malandu.
Upon leaving Marist Brothers in 1986, Kamocha continued to play for the local side and was good enough to make it to the town’s select side for the BAT Osborne Trophy. Kamocha played for Rusupuko an army side that plied its trade in the provincial league.
“I impressed with the Osborne Trophy side and I was called up to the Hwange first team. It was good exposure as we played teams from Kamativi, Dete, Jotsholo and Bulawayo,” said Kamocha. He said getting into the first team was no easy task. There were several players who could play that position among them Mbelelo Njekwa and Benson Soko. His first Super League coach in 1987 was Zimbabwe legend Ernest Kamba whose goals tie in one season puts him in the top three with two others Paul Tsumbe and Peter Nyama.
Kamocha credits club legend Simwanza with moulding him into the player he got to be. Simwanza used to be one of the coaches for teams for the Chibuku Trophy which was picked from the best primary school boys. The same players would be used as decoys when national coaches Mick Poole, Ben Koufie and Lovemore Nyabeze came for coaching seminars. It was no wonder that Kamocha used to pack stingers from a distance as Simwanza nicknamed 303, was respected for those kind of goals.
Kamocha says working with experienced coaches who include Paul Moyo, Jones Chilengi and Morgan Mandona got the best out of him.
Career highlights include winning the Castle Cup and playing in Africa where the club travelled to Kenya to face Kenya Breweries in 1992. His worst match was when he scored an own goal against Highlanders.
“All appeared to be on course for me during the game, a special big match that coincided with my birthday. As fate would have it, I turned villain as I scored an own goal,” said Archie. Kamocha is however, credited with providing the experience needed for a young central defence partnership of former Marist Brothers schoolmate Brian Njobvu and Taboniswa Ncube. His best game was scoring a goal against Dynamos in 1997 when the coal miners won 4-1. At 32 and still feeling like going for it for a couple of years, Kamocha was forced to retire.
“The booing and whistling of fans got the better of me and I decided to retire from the club. I was happy that I was able to add another piece of silverware to the 1970 and 1973 Castle Cups to our great club’s cabinet. “It was time to move on and allow a new generation of heroes to have their time,” said Kamocha who quit Chipangano in 2000. Of today’s players he said they no longer put effort into training.
“Games are won at training not on match day. They do not want to train but come match day they want to emulate what Ronaldo and Lionel Messi do by wanting to take free kicks. There is no substitute for training.
“We trained hard. We earned a pittance, probably the lowest in both the Premiership and Super League but we remained committed. For us we played for our fans, the colliery, the legacy and our community,” said Archie.
Kamocha said the club was known as giant slayers. “Playing against big teams, Dynamos in particular was self-motivating. Passing through the bus terminus at Lwendulu and seeing Dynamos fans dancing and singing, gave us the urge to do beat them,” said Kamocha from Hwange. Kamocha’s Best Wankie X1:
Posani Sibanda, Austin Ncube, Ben Soko, Amos Rendo, Dick Banda, Petros Chungwa, David Khumalo, Lazarus Mwambopo, Antony Sibanda, Nyaro Mumba and Charles Chilufya.