The Sunday News
THAT dreadful thief — death, was at it again last Monday stealing from earth Victor Tshuma, one of Bulawayo’s least celebrated heroes on the football public gallery.
Tshuma was the founding coach of Young Blood, one of the city’s best junior development initiatives of the last 30 years.
A great coach and man by any measure, whose accolades include mentoring the likes of former Manchester City forward Benjani Mwaruwari, former AmaZulu, Dynamos, Shabanie Mine and Warriors midfielder Francis Chandida, the skilful ball playing Howard “Romario” Mago and Bosso defender Sikhumbuzo Ndebele.
Despite all his successes, a humble man, he did not have the Caf Level courses, he was a coach driven by passion and love to see children have a better future.
Seven years ago, when Mwaruwari launched his Benjani Mwaruwari Junior Football Festival, he insisted that his mentor be found and that a team from Old Magwegwe be part of the event.
Yet those who know him and his contribution to soccer, will concur that a football hero has departed.
Tshuma (62) died at the United Bulawayo Hospitals (UBH) on Monday due to diabetes complications leaving behind wife Karisca and children, Lwazi (36), Thamsanqa (36) and Viola (14).
His death cast a dark shadow and solemn moment to communities in Magwegwe and Lobengula and to some extent Pumula. Youths from those townships had since the 1980s benefited from his coaching and life lessons.
He had taken a fatherly role at an early age of many footballers who would rise to stardom yet down to earth as he was, he was content to live in the shadows of renowned talent scouts and groomers such as Ali “Baba” Dube, Washington (Mpofu), the late Jani Gwede and Lazarus Zimangi.
Tshuma was up there at the level of these fantastic coaches. His undoing being involved with a club with no resources, a project that even the media ignored yet in essence it was a very productive conveyor belt of talent.
Barry Tshuma, Victor’s younger brother confirmed to Sunday News that his brother had succumbed to diabetes.
“He succumbed to diabetes related complications on Monday. We are at a loss for words, our brother was a great personality within the family. His death is a loss to the family,” said Barry.
Victor, he said, was a man who lived football and was keen to sacrifice his every little resources to make his football boys happy.
“He ate football, drank football, slept football and lived the game. His life was about football and it was common to find boys at home having drinks after matches at his expense. For football, his love and passion, he was ever prepared to go an extra mile, yet he would not neglect his family,” said Barry.
Barry said his brother was born on 10 August 1957 in Nkayi District’s Manonomano Village. That is where he did his primary school where he shone as a pacey right winger before moving to Bulawayo where he would join Dunlop for whom he worked for over 20 years.
“We hear he played a bit in Bulawayo but we were in Nkayi so we never got to know much about his early days in the city. When we were grown up a bit we lived with him and got to appreciate his love and commitment to the game and development of youths in the suburbs,” said Barry.
Victor was among the pioneers of Old Magwegwe-based Young Blood. A team that he founded with the likes of Thulani Ndlovu, Khumulani Mlauzi and Masauso Mlauzi according to Barry.
It did not take long before gems started coming out of the project.
Youngsters from Old Lobengula, New Lobengula, Lobengula West, Magwegwe North, Old Magwegwe and Pumula found his Magwegwe West training ground the place to be. His approach to the game was different to most junior coaches.
He wanted his boys to grow up to be responsible citizens, always emphasising on discipline and encouraging his players to concentrate on academics.
“I was not a regular starter. The team had a lot of stars. But I learnt a lot discipline wise and we took the academic route,” said Muzi Hadebe, a banker and football writer as well as commentator.
Victor was mentor to players like Sikhumbuzo Ndebele, Mlungisi Ndebele, Mwaruwari, Howard “Romario” Mago, Masauso Phiri, Thabani Masawi, Dazzy Kapenya, Castro Ndebele, Bekithemba Nkiwane, Thubelihle Nkomazana, Lewis Ncube, Sautso Phiri, Shadreck Nyoni, Francis Chandida, Mbusi Hlongwane, Luckson Mutanga and Timile Ncube.
One of the 1980s and 1990s most exciting lower division football projects Turnall FC was dominated by players who had come through Victor.
His touch was also visible at Corrugated and Kango FC where several players who went through Young Blood plied their trade.
Due to lack of resources like bus fare and football boots some of his better players tended to be poached by near by Eagles (Bulawayo Wanderers) or Highlanders. That would not dampen his spirits as he would look for other rough diamonds to polish and expose.
The list of his players is in exhaustible in his almost 30 years of junior football involvement.
So good was his juniors that they even represented the Southern Region Provinces of Bulawayo, Matabeleland North, Matabeleland South, the Midlands and Masvingo at a national age-group tournament which they won. That was a rare feat to have a team like Young Blood winning one of the best junior tournaments of the yesteryear era which appeared to be a preserve for teams like Highlanders, Hwange and Zimbabwe Saints from this part of the country.
In the 2000s Victor worked with the late Dumisani “Ntathe” Mabhena and Philani Mabhena at Bloem Celtics.
On Friday morning Victor undertook his last lap of honour as the final whistle of his life was blown as he was buried at Athlone Cemetery.
A number of football personalities, mainly his former players from Pumula South, Magwegwe and Lobengula residents were there to bid farewell to a football hero.