Ncube: Coach and ref­eree rolled into one

Sunday News (Zimbabwe) - - Front Page -

From Page 8 man­age­ment badly needed a good re­sult and that af­ter the match we would be taken to the fac­tory to get shoes for our chil­dren, I then in­vited him to our dress­ing room.

“While there I in­tro­duced my­self as a teacher, Jele as an ad­min­is­tra­tor with some com­pany that was at York House in Bu­l­awayo’s CBD. I then said the third guy was a po­lice of­fi­cer and called on my col­league to ef­fect a cit­i­zen’s ar­rest with Jele on the man for at­tempt­ing to bring the game into dis­re­pute.

“How he got to the door first and turned the key to es­cape sud­den ar­rest was so quick that, within sec­onds he was van­ish­ing into the crowds to es­cape a thor­ough beat­ing and ar­rest. As ref­er­ees we have to pro­tect both clubs and those pay­ing hard cash to keep the game go­ing,” he said.

Ncube was to get an­other bribery at­tempt on him in a match Zis­cos­teel badly needed to win at Tor­wood Sta­dium in Red­cliff against High­landers FC.

“This gen­tle­man barged into the dress­ing room. We could hear him say we are home­boys, we speak SiNde­bele. He asked to speak to the ref­eree in pri­vacy. I went out of the dress­ing room to hear his story. He said Zisco wanted the win more than High­landers to sur­vive and that we had to make sure they win and we would be re­warded hand­somely.

“I took him to the dress­ing room where I said my col­leagues were in the po­lice force. I then gave him a lec­ture that as a teacher by pro­fes­sion, match of­fi­ci­at­ing called for im­par­tial of­fi­ci­at­ing as both clubs needed our pro­tec­tion. I threat­ened that I would put it into my re­port and that he should stop his ways. With his tail be­tween the legs, the guy left the dress­ing room very hu­mil­i­ated,” Ncube said.

He said back in the day foot­ball was about pas­sion and win­ning for play­ers and coaches.

Re­mu­ner­a­tion was poor

“It was for the love of the game that peo­ple en­gaged in it. There were no gemo­log­i­cal fac­tors like in­duce­ments, be it cash or drugs,” he added.

How did Ncube get into ref­er­ee­ing? Af­ter com­plet­ing his teacher train­ing course at St Pa­trick’s Mis­sion in Gweru, he was posted to Loben­gula Pri­mary School in Bu­l­awayo’s Mzi­likazi sub­urb.

In 1971 he started coach­ing the first crop of High­landers Un­der-14s which had the leg­endary High­landers goal­keeper Peter Nkomo.

“I was pas­sion­ate about foot­ball. There was this crop of ju­niors I worked with at 11th Street pitch at Makokoba. I trained them up to a stage where they were close to first team ac­tion be­fore Ali Dube took over. I then was chal­lenged by Bosso chair­man Mt­shena Sidile (late) to join the ref­er­ees’ ranks. That was about 1975.

“He said there were too many ref­er­ees from the In­dian and Shona com­mu­ni­ties, so there was a need for Nde­bele speak­ing chaps to come on board and pro­tect ev­ery­one’s in­ter­ests in the sport. I then started run­ning lines and even­tu­ally was as­sessed and given cen­tre­man roles lead­ing to my rise to Class One,” he said.

Ncube was in­volved in the short-lived South Zone Soc­cer League matches where he re­calls the likes of the late Fran­cis Sikhosana, Ma­juta Mpofu, Lemmy Mnenekwa, Thomas Chipem­bere, Danny Ma­haso, Ni­code­mus Mab­hena, Con­rad Nko­mazana, Tito Paketh, Boyce Malunga, Lawrence Phiri, Al­fred Ngedla Phiri, Dou­glas Mloyi, Doughty Sit­hole, John Rei­lan­der and Neil and Richard Boon­zaier as hav­ing been some of the best play­ers in the league.

In the elite leagues on ei­ther side of In­de­pen­dence, Gib­son Homela, James Nxumalo, Max Tshuma, Ma­juta Mpofu, Madinda Ndlovu, Dou­glas Mloyi, William Sibanda, Onias Mu­sana, Stan­ford “Stix” Mtizwa, Joel Shambo, Robert Godoka, Ge­orge Shaya are among the he­roes of the game.

Ncube said he was in­spired by ref­er­ees like Frank Val­der­maca, John Nkat­hazo and Wil­fred Mukuna.

“Frank was a cut above the rest. His read­ing of the game, sit­u­a­tions and ap­pli­ca­tion of the rules was su­perb. John was great and this one (Mukuna) who liked to back pedal a lot too did a great job at the cen­tre,” said Ncube.

Ncube said the likes of Gu­lam Jo­gee, Paul Pre­to­rius and Premji Giga were very good on their day but at times tended to be in­flu­enced by crowds which would lead to bad de­ci­sions.

Apart from coach­ing High­landers ju­niors Ncube also coached at Loben­gula Pri­mary School where among some of his play­ers were the late Max Tshuma, Nhamo Sham­bira and Sum­mer Ncube who is in Botswana.

“Hey, it’s just too many of them for me to re­mem­ber. It’s been over 40 years with some and many kids have passed through these hands,” said the 69-year-old nick­named Stina and known among his peers as Ntatheli.

Ncube’s coach­ing ex­ploits saw him coach the likes of Peter Ndlovu, the late Adam Ndlovu and Ben­jamin Nkon­jera at Mzi­likazi High School.

“I was Peter Ndlovu’s Form Three and Four, English teacher. He was a gem. We had bril­liant school teams at Mzi­likazi but that crop stands out,” said Ncube with a sense of ac­com­plish­ment.

Ncube was born in Mberengwa on the bor­der with Fi­l­abusi and did his pri­mary school ed­u­ca­tion at Masase Mis­sion and Msiningila.

He pro­ceeded to Mz­ing­wane High School up to Form Two (Ju­nior Cer­tifi­cate) be­fore land­ing at Hope Foun­tain for his Pri­mary Teacher Higher Cer­tifi­cate 1 and an­other year at the next level at St Pa­trick’s in Chi­wun­dura.

He said in his youth he liked ath­let­ics and foot­ball with the Mu­tize twins Clifton and Cliff and Chemist Siz­iba among the ath­letes of his gen­er­a­tion he faced while they were at Matopo.

At Mz­ing­wane he played cricket and made score lines with fours and sixes his daily bread lead­ing to sports mas­ter, a Mr Tay­lor want­ing him to move to Botswana.

“I was a vic­tim of apartheid. I could have played cricket at a higher level but as a black per­son I could not take my tal­ent to the next level. Mr Tay­lor wanted me to train at Queens then move to play in Botswana who were a Bri­tish Pro­tec­torate not suf­fer­ing from seg­re­ga­tory ten­den­cies,” said Ncube.

He said that chance went up in smoke and Mr Tay­lor never ex­plained why.

Ncube taught at Lozikeyi, Mzi­likazi High School and had a stint at the Bu­l­awayo City Coun­cil where he was a sports co-or­di­na­tor, a devel­op­ment that al­lowed him to write his O-lev­els as the hec­tic teach­ing sched­ule made it dif­fi­cult. In later years he was to do his ed­u­ca­tion de­gree and sev­eral other cour­ses work­ing for an in­sur­ance com­pany be­fore call­ing it a day to help out in the mar­ket­ing de­part­ment of the fam­ily’s River Val­ley Prop­er­ties.

Ncube is mar­ried with four kids, two boys and two girls.

He is not happy with many for­mer ref­er­ees hav­ing been el­bowed out of match com­mis­sion­ing and be­lieves di­vi­sions within the folk have ex­isted for far too long with fis­sures hav­ing emerged dur­ing the Nel­son Chirwa era.

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