Bhekuzulu Khu­malo: A doctor of sport

Sunday News (Zimbabwe) - - Front Page -

From Page L6 coun­try were search­ing for their maps to es­tab­lish where we were,” said Khu­malo.

It was about the same time Roy Phiri and his prov­ince the pro­vin­cial ath­let­ics boss were be­ing spon­sored by United Bot­tlers (Coca-Cola) later to be Delta Bev­er­ages.

The com­pany sup­ported one of the best road run­ning clubs in the coun­try and spon­sored a num­ber of ac­tiv­i­ties in ath­let­ics.

Khu­malo found him­self com­pet­ing for glory with Aman­dlethu’s James Rug­w­ev­era, a Lu­pane school, Hwange’s Rocket Ndlovu, Mar­tin Ncube’s To­hwe from Ma­tobo, Sa­muke­liso Moyo’s coach from Ntepe Se­condary School for recog­ni­tion.

Harare’s Kuwadzana No 2 High School had Ben­son Chauke with ath­letes like Cuth­bert Nyasango, Jane Makombe and Faith Ka­man­gira com­ing up be­tween then and 2003.

“Ath­let­ics then was quite ex­cit­ing. We had all the rea­sons as young coaches to want to be there. There were enough events and mo­ti­va­tion to drive you as a coach and ath­lete such as the Coca-Cola events, Vase­line Half Marathon and Old Mu­tual 10km Se­ries.

“It was just an ex­cit­ing pe­riod for ath­let­ics that promised so much and de­liv­ered lots of com­pe­ti­tion among us young coaches mo­ti­vated by gen­er­a­tions that had Artwell Man­daza, Tap­fu­maneyi Jonga and the late Zepha­nia Ncube as our he­roes,” said the Doctor.

Khu­malo worked with ath­letes who saw him be­ing plucked from Umguza/Bubi to Bu­l­awayo with­out much has­sle.

“It was af­ter 1995 All-Africa Games where I acted as a li­ai­son of­fi­cer that a message was sent to me through In­suza Po­lice that I was wanted in Bu­l­awayo.

“I had in­ter­acted with Bu­l­awayo Pro­vin­cial Ed­u­ca­tion Of­fi­cer in the Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion, Web­ster Sibanda dur­ing All-Africa Games.

“I was given three schools to choose from and I opted for Sikhulile be­cause it was close to my Loben­gula West home,” said the Nust lec­turer who owes what he is to his lik­ing for ath­let­ics.

He said Phethind­aba Sibanda, Priscilla Sibanda and Flathele Ncube were his first re­cruits at Sigonde who in 1993 were among seven run­ners from the school to make it to na­tional fi­nals.

“For an un­her­alded ru­ral school, that feat was big,” he said.

Some of the ath­letes fol­lowed him in 1996 when he switched to Sikhulile, act­ing as his foun­da­tion.

“Get­ting to a new school with these ath­letes made it easy for me to set­tle down. The school had its own he­roes who made the coach’s work eas­ier but when I came with a new ide­ol­ogy they did won­ders for me. Sikhulile be­gan to be known as a con­veyor belt of great tal­ent in ath­let­ics,” said Doctor Khu­malo.

Over the years Khu­malo was to pro­duce Xolani Nki­wane (14 min­utes 41 sec­onds) in the 5 000m whose 3 000m time set in Hun­gary still stands as the na­tional 3 000m record, 17 years af­ter his rise, Sikhulile Sibanda, Ish­mael Nyan­doro, Teu­rayi Chin­guwa, Dal­iso Nkam­bule, Nobuhle Ncube, Kudzani Ten­gani, long jump hero Likhwa Ncube and Takesure Mlambo.

“I was happy to see some of these ath­letes get a life. Mines, big cor­po­rates and uni­formed ser­vices em­ployed some of the ath­letes on a full-time ba­sis.

“To have con­trib­uted to their lives af­ter the track and road is some­thing I have lived to savour,” said the for­mer Loben­gula Spar­rows coach whose ground­ing may have got­ten a high lift with two years spent in Cuba teacher train­ing in 1989 and 1990.

To have had com­pa­nies and in­di­vid­u­als pay­ing school fees for some of the ath­letes was a crown­ing mo­ment for Khu­malo.

The 1990s and early 2000s will re­main en­trenched in his sport­ing re­sume.

“Ath­let­ics needed new he­roes on the track and coaches. We were young and in­ex­pe­ri­enced and pushed by com­pe­ti­tion among our­selves.

“Most 800m events to marathons be­came a fief­dom for Sa­muke­liso Moyo of Mung­wari Joseph and Chris­tine Ncube’s Pion­ners Club, Aman­dlethu, Sikhulile/ Spar­rows and Ben Chauke’s Kuwadzana.

“We dom­i­nated with a gen­uinely new crop of ath­letes who changed the land­scape and it is no doubt that the likes of Samu Moyo, Jane Makombe, Faith Ka­man­gira, Si­phul­wazi Sibindi, Cuth­bert Nyasango, Message Map­fumo, Singazi Dube, Mar­garet Ma­ho­homa to men­tion a few have been the best tal­ents in mid­dle and long dis­tance run­ning,” he added.

The above crop holds sev­eral records and has won races across Africa and abroad with Nyasango’s 2 hours eight min­utes posted at the Lon­don Olympics the best ever marathon time by a Zim­bab­wean.

Khu­malo said they put in a lot of hours to breed the best ath­letes and had sup­port­ive heads, wives, fam­ily and col­leagues.

Their con­tri­bu­tion as a block can­not be ig­nored in Zim­bab­wean ath­let­ics.

The sports doctor said he would not have con­trib­uted as much as he did with­out the sup­port of his wife, Cather­ine, a sports ma­jor at both Hill­side Teach­ers Col­lege and univer­sity.

“My wife was so sup­port­ive, play­ing host to a num­ber of ath­let­ics kids at our three-roomed home then, with­out her sup­port I would not have risen and done half the things I did in the sport,” he said.

In his ten­ure in ath­let­ics in the prov­ince he was able to coach the team to na­tional ti­tles, guide Zim­babwe to a South­ern Africa gold medal podium po­si­tion and pro­duce through his club a num­ber of na­tional icons.

Khu­malo, a for­mer pupil at Bungwe Pri­mary School, Cyrene and Thek­wane High School said he was a 400m run­ner and hor­i­zon­tal jumps fa­natic. It is, how­ever, in the one lap event that he found him­self at home.

In the 1980s he was among the first group of Zim­bab­weans to train in Cuba for sci­ence teach­ing de­grees. He could not com­plete his train­ing there due to ill-health that forced his re­turn.

How­ever, he found him­self at Mutare Teacher’s Col­lege be­tween 1989 and 1991 where he was ac­tive in foot­ball coach­ing.

Once in Mata­bele­land North he found him­self switch­ing to ath­let­ics.

“In Cuba ed­u­ca­tion sport is com­pul­sory. I ad­vanced my in­ter­est in both ath­let­ics and foot­ball and saw how sci­ence and tech­nol­ogy came to­gether to­wards ex­cel­lency in sport.

“Guided by some of the things I learnt there I tried im­ple­ment­ing some of them and now af­ter pro­gres­sion as a coach, ath­let­ics of­fi­cial and sport­ing aca­demic I am con­vinced both have a role in sport,” said Khu­malo.

Khu­malo said the up­take of sci­ence and sport in the coun­try was still low.

“We can en­hance our per­for­mances through adop­tion of sci­ence and tech­nol­ogy and im­proved sports man­age­ment.”

A qual­i­fied In­ter­na­tional As­so­ci­a­tion of Ath­let­ics Fed­er­a­tions coach, of­fi­cial and lec­turer, the doctor was able to join Nust and ad­vance him­self to the level he is at now.

He lec­tured sports sci­ence at United Col­lege and Hill­side Teach­ers Col­lege be­fore join­ing Nust as a tech­ni­cian in 2004.

He was to ad­vance him­self to Mas­ters level in Bel­gium and Ire­land be­fore his doc­tor­ate in South Africa at the Univer­sity of KwaZulu-Natal.

“Sci­ence and tech­nol­ogy matched with a mod­ern type of ad­min­is­tra­tion that uses sci­ence in both iden­ti­fi­ca­tion and nur­tur­ing of tal­ent is what our sports need go­ing for­ward,” said Khu­malo.

He be­moaned the cur­rent sit­u­a­tion where there are no clear-cut devel­op­ment pro­grammes in na­tional sport.

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