Ncube: Coach, referee in one
A CHIP of the old block and school that emphasised that football involvement was service to the community and game, giving taking bribes in football the middle finger is the legacy Isaac Gwabani Ncube left.
He may not have risen to a Fifa Class referee but many will remember him for running the lines or being in the centre during the 1970s to early 1990s in the Southern Region.
He is the man credited with starting the first ever recognised Highlanders FC Under-14s, a crop that went on to have notables like George Moyo, Mpilo Mafu, Jabulani Mbambo, George Nkomo and the legendary Peter “Captain Oxo” Nkomo.
Sunday Life on Friday traced Ncube to his River Valley Properties offices in the city where he bared his heart about his life and the game. He spoke passionately about his past and the game’s history and path in the last 50 years but could not be drawn into the state of it nowadays.
Ncube said referees have a duty to acknowledge wrong when they mess up the game. He said that helps both fans and players appreciate the rules of the game better as sticking to wrong only fuels ill-feeling towards each other.
Going down memory, Ncube said in the late 1980s he officiated a match pitting Patrick Changunda’s Pumula City Crackers and Tshabalala Warriors at Sizinda. He stunned the refereeing community when in his postmatch report he made mention that he was to blame for the game flowing to the jungle.
“They (referees) were stunned with my report. I took responsibility for what transpired in that game. The match generated into something else and the situation got so heated up that play could not go on. I realised that at the end I should have sent some players for an early shower and awarded two penalties. If I had done that the game would have proceeded smoothly, I was to blame for that as the man in the centre and dutifully I had to take responsibility,” said Ncube.
He called upon referees to be honest and consistently apply the rules of the game without fear or favour as teams are like one’s set of twins. Both need nurturing and love of equal measure. He said once referees acknowledge that they at times do wrong then they would be closure to some tensions that emanate from some matches where the match officials would have decided a result and someone’s job with a wrong call through human error or outright mischief.
Ncube conceded that referees get offers to deliver a result. He said those without the passion for the game as has become the scenario in the game in Zimbabwe nowadays, they opt for money because in the first instance they are not in the game for its own good but for their pockets. He recalls a match in the early 1980s in Gweru where a defeat to either Gweru United or Bata Power would have meant either of the two going down to Division One.
Ncube and his colleagues were approached by a man purporting to be a Bata Power official.
“He came to the dressing room and asked to speak to the referee. I said I was the man in charge. I must have had Faroah Jele and another man who was a police officer as my assistants (linesmen). After speaking to the guy who had said
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