Nyaro Mumba Wankie’s forgotten soccer hero

09 Jun, 2024 - 00:06 0 Views
Nyaro Mumba Wankie’s forgotten soccer hero Nyaro Mumba in action

The Sunday News

Yesteryear Greats with Lovemore Dube

IN the hustle and bustle of the country’s prime tourism destination, Victoria Falls, lives one of the country’s biggest known former footballers, Nyaro Mumba, the ex-Gwayi River Mine and Wankie FC forward.

He may not have won anything with Wankie (now Hwange), but Mumba has a special place in the hearts of the locals and a permanent slot in Zimbabwe football folklore.

It is difficult to talk about the Wankie team of the 1970s and early 1980s without mentioning the great forward.

However, fate hit him almost two decades ago when he turned blind because of an ailment preventing him from working as a tour guide in Victoria Falls.

He is a member of probably the best Wankie outfit.

A team that was ranked high up there among Arcadia, Black Aces, Caps United, Chibuku Shumba, Dynamos, Mangula (Mhangura), Metal Box, Highlanders, Risco (Zisco), Rio Tinto and Zimbabwe Saints.

Former Hwange hardman Alick Nyoni this week reached out to the Sunday News to announce plans they have for the great Mumba.

On the weekend former Hwange players will travel to Victoria Falls for a benefit match in honour of their great hero. 

A master on the ball, too skilful for a man of his size, a great ball controller, dribbler, shooter and second to none with offensive headers.

Nyoni said the initiative was the beginning of many ideas they have as former players. 

He said generations of players had been inspired by Mumba and his teammates, as they were at Wankie they watched tame giants like Dynamos, Highlanders, Black Aces, Rio Tinto and Zimbabwe Saints.

“He was our hero, he still is. He played a role in the development of the game in Hwange. Not only did he inspire us as a player but he went on to coach the club, ZPC Hwange and was involved in the local league.

“Nyaro is one of the most popular players to have played for the club, he is our everyday hero. Their team rocked. I remember as kids watching him alongside other legends Posani Sibanda, Rodrick Simwanza, Amos Rendo, Austin Ncube, Barton Mwalukuka, Skeva Phiri, Isaac Phiri and the mercurial David Khumalo. He was a big player in physique and football standing, a gentleman on the field and off it as we used to see them in the compounds,” said Nyoni.

He said by meeting around Mumba as former Hwange players, they were also coming together with a view of creating a platform to check on each other.

“We hope we can through this initiative get to meet more often, do charity work to benefit some of our former teammates and club players who may be in need,” said Nyoni.

He said that they had started with Mumba because of his sight plight.

“We want to visit him as a group some of the guys its players he coached. It will raise his spirits for him to play host to a group of former players from the town and club he got known to the world,” said Nyoni of the 69-year-old cult hero during his time.

Many remember him outjumping big defenders and unleashing ferocious headers.

Nyoni said they will fundraise and proceeds will go to Mumba and his family.

He said the saddest thing is that Mumba will not be able to watch the match.

“As a football legend it would have been great for him to watch us in action. Football remains his passion but sadly the visual impairment hit him,” said Nyoni.

Mumba started his football career in the 1960s in Mangula now Mhangura. He then moved to Gwayi River Mine which back then mined copper like Mhangura.

When the mine was closed in 1975, Mumba a star of the cast was poached by Hwange while George Phiri and George Baison moved to Kamativi who were in the South Region Division One League alongside Wankie.

At his arrival Wankie was already a household name in the local game having won the 1970 and 1973 Castle Cup finals against Arcadia and Dynamos respectively.

Mumba quickly asserted himself as a great player commanding a regular starting position either at Number Six, Eight, Nine or 10.

The most memorable moments of his career was lining up alongside Khumalo, Warriors striker Simwanza, Jimmy Sibanda, Rhodesia national team trialist Nathaniel Maduku, two time Soccer Star of the Year finalist Amos Rendo, Chris Yoyo, Skeva Phiri, Mwalukuka, David Zulu and Leonard Tembo.

He provided a number of assists and scored gems with his head and some from his terrific right foot. 

He was a marvel firing from range in full flight.

Former Highlanders and Warriors defender Douglas “British” Mloyi described Mumba as having been a great player.

“Nyaro was skilful. He was a very good guy, good at shooting and heading. He was also very aggressive as a striker,” said Mloyi.

Mloyi had a lighter moment about Wankie and his Highlanders’ clashes.

“He has a big head, I have one too, so in one match we collided and we were both treated for 10 minutes outside,” said Mloyi with a burst of laughter.

Another star who faced Mumba is Joseph Ndlovu a former Eagles centreback who served the club for over 10 years.

He said Mumba was very good in the air and one of the deadliest forwards of his era.

“Nyaro was good in the air, one of the deadliest strikers of that time. He was good at heading and could shoot while in full flight. He was quite strong with good balance. Despite giving you a torrid time on the field in duels, he was a gentleman on and off the field,” said Ndlovu.

Former PTC (Hwange) star Israel Chitalu Kasomo who was a teenager when Mumba was winding up his career in the early 1980s described him as having been a prolific scorer with the head and a dependable player.

He rarely was cautioned as he was a smart player.

“He was a prolific scorer with the header and ever dependable player during his football time. A disciplinarian to the core. I recall vividly he came from the bench to put Chipangano on level terms with a deadly header from a Kakoma Kayonga corner kick in one game clad in his favourite Number 10 jersey. 

“It’s never complete to write about Chipangano legends without mentioning Nyaro Mumba. After the heydays at Chipangano FC, he continued with his passion for football. Mumba scored more goals with his head than foot. Indeed he had a powerful right foot strike that mesmerised goalkeepers.

“At the Wankie Amateur Football Association, the local league that nurtured and polished young talents, Mumba was ever on the bench of Rufaro Rovers, doing what he loved most, grooming young stars into the senior Chipangano outfit,” said Kasomo of the man who also turned out for Erieta, Project Warriors and Zulu Royals in Hwange.

After serving Rufaro well, he got an opportunity to coach ZPC (Hwange) before relocating to Victoria Falls where poor sight cut short his coaching career.


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