The Sunday News
Mandla Ncube, Sports Reporter
THE 2020 Southern Region Division One season is a season which many will be looking forward to probably with an extra reason to.
For those who have been following junior league football closely, the name Loverty Mabunda popularly known as “Dinho” is not new to them but to many he will need to announce himself at a much bigger stage.
At just 26, Mabunda left many people in a mixture of both amazement and respect pulling what many regard as the greatest success story there can ever be written in recent memory in Bulawayo various football leagues.
Coaching Quality Foods, a Tshabalala-based side in a Zifa Bulawayo Division Two League littered with yesteryear stars like Chipo Tsodzo of Bantu Leopards, Abraham Mbaiwa in charge FMSA and Nkosana “Sancho” Gumbo the coach of Chicken Inn, Mabunda managed to defy all odds, steering Quality Foods into the Southern Region Division One.
“Beating the veteran coaches was sweet but it was a big challenge considering I have never kicked a ball even in Division One and it was quite a challenge but I wanted to prove a point, young as I was,” said Mabunda.
With a playing career that failed to get off the ground due to a knee injury, Mabunda ventured into coaching at his boyhood club Street Set which was the beginning of a story that very few people believe to be true.
As with many junior clubs, Street Set which was a launch pad for Mabunda’s coaching career folded seemingly with his career too. However, after having decided to take up a refereeing course, Mabunda received a call that gave him yet another dance with coaching.
Santos, later renamed to Quality Foods gave him another coaching chance, a shot which he seized with both hands up to this day.
Away from the limelight and pressure, Mabunda transformed Quality Foods into a formidable side that has risen into Division One football. They sealed promotion on the last day of the season with a draw at home to Bantu Leopards who needed an outright win.
Perhaps with the 2020 Division One season dawning, Mabunda will find time to do some self-introspection to process this remarkable feat. Never in his wildest dreams would he have imagined himself managing a team in the country’s second tier division at such a young age.
With a crop of players that have been together for years now and the oldest player in the side being a 25-year-old, Mabunda strongly believes his boys will continue punching above their weight despite Division One football last season showing that it can still be merciless to even the most talented youngsters.
“We are not going to Division One to add numbers, we are going there to challenge because these boys are talented and are very young,” he said.
With the 2020 season lying in wait, the courage that Mabunda has shown throughout his career, it is hard to imagine anyone betting even their last coin against his team on any day. He has shone bright thus far and looks certain to even shine more.