Gweru Sharks: A team with a difference
THE convergence of different tribes in Gweru makes it a rich field for exposure to a diverse ethnic culture unequalled by most cities in the country. The absence of no one particular tribal or ethnic group in Gweru makes it a city for everybody.
Unlike other cities and towns, Gweru does not have a rich footballing culture and in history, Bata Power and Gweru United were once known to represent the city. However, both are now defunct.
There used to be Chapungu Football Club in the Premier League before it took a long lag back – the team is only coming back into top flight football this season.
Ascot Stadium has been turned into a social soccer venue while Mkoba Stadium was at one point only hosting political rallies and church crusades.
In 2012, Hardbody joined the fora and this brought a reprieve for soccer loving Midlanders although their stay was short-lived.
One author once said: “The essence of community, its heart and soul, is the non-monetary exchange of value - things we do and share because we care for others, and for the good of the place.”
A social soccer team, Gweru Sharks have strived to live up to this billing, with plans of extending their social soccer experience beyond the national borders and making a name for Gweru soccer on the social scene.
The determined team, which has a legion of professionals and former football executives and players in its corner, has set the bar high in the chilly town of Gweru.
Journalists, technicians, engineers, police officers, auto electricians, motor mechanics, entrepreneurs and college students are some of the people that are found in the Sharks fold - a mix of ideas and melting pot of experiences.
“All we want to do is have fun playing football. When most of us were involved in the premiership, we were very much frustrated because of the politics that surround the game at that level. There we had to struggle with things like bias, match-fixing and so forth, all which was stressful for some of us who are simply concerned with enjoying the beautiful game. Further on, when a team you were with in lower divisions makes it into the top-flight, some people come through and somewhat take over the club and it’s just stressful to say the least ,” says the club’s president Augustine Mutaramuswa who was once involved with former premiership side Hard Body.
Some of the people who play for the team include former Caps United and Sporting Lions player Charles Chari, Benford Maphosa Kudakwashe Kegedera, Chenjerai Zinaka, Philisani Ndebele, Fiso Siziba who all used to turn out for ZIFA Midlands division Two side ZRP, Tinomuda Chakanyuka formerly with GMB Marondera in the Zifa Eastern region division one, Collen Nikisi who turned out for Chitungwiza based division two outfit Twin Con and David Blackie formerly with Tanganda and Arcadia United just to mention a few.
“We decided to concentrate on social football because it’s clean of boardroom squabbling and all we want is to enjoy football, travel to other places playing other teams and meet new people. We also are all about keeping healthy and fit,” said Mutaramuswa.
What makes this team unique is the state of organisation and commitment, which has seen them being the unofficial occupants of Mkoba Stadium without the existence of any particular team using the famous Midlands stadium.
“We have a reasonable regular following when we play our matches. Over the years we have succeeded with our goals because they are quite simple – we seek to enjoy football. What we are focusing on now is how we can travel to neighbouring countries like Botswana to interact and exchange ideas with colleagues there using the sport as a platform,” pointed out Mutaramuswa.
Commenting on the name “Sharks”, Mutaramuswa said the colloquial connotations of a “shark” best defines them.
“Like everybody knows, ‘sharks’ are people who have no worries as they enjoy what they have. Sometimes when people see others enjoying their drinks and having fun they assume that they are proud or whatever. When we go for games, sometimes we have an entourage of 15 cars and that’s what being ‘sharks’ means. We enjoy ourselves in every way,” he noted.
Gweru Sharks is made up of an executive, which includes some of its founding and life members. The team runs on contributions from members and players.
“Our team is made up of professionals and also a few students from Gweru Polytechnic and Midlands State University. These youngsters also get to learn one or two things from us as they build on their own careers and life. We are all about building community and being effective in assisting each other.
“When we have matches, we make contributions for fuel and even the drinks and braai that we usually have after the games. We don’t really expect the students to pay because sometimes they might not be able to do so – when they can though, they do contribute. Some of our players and members are well off so they also assist us with more contributions,” related the president.
Boosting of two kits, a yellow away Puma strip and red and white home strip – the team has set a standard for excellence.