Khumalo: A doctor of sport
IN or around 1993, Bulawayo and Matabeleland North athletics had the privilege to have dynamic and hungry for success athletics coaches.
Among them was Bhekuzulu Khumalo, now a National University of Science and Technology lecturer, whose pursuit of higher sport has seen him study sport to a level where he has earned the title doctor.
His is different from “Dr” Luke Masomere or Theophillus “Doctor” Khumalo, the former Kaizer Chiefs midfield magician whose names are engraved in football folklore. His is among the most underrated and celebrated in athletics despite him openly saying he is where he is because of his exploits as a coach in athletics for club, province and country.
“Honestly without athletics I would not be where I am today,” he says with a proud smile after a motivation speech to kids in Pumula South on Tuesday, a group motivated to road running by their neighbour, Faith Ngwabi, a pupil at Magwegwe Secondary School.
He has come through the mill from a schoolboy who would clap hands and cheer once the school truck went up a bump or ditch on Matabeleland South rural roads on the way to events soon after Independence.
His name is high up there among coaches who changed the athletics landscape in the 1990s and early 2000s.
Khumalo (54) has probably been the only former athlete in recent years to have gone that far in pursuit of academic excellency. From early exposure in his early 20s where he saw the application of science and technology in sport in the 1980s, he is among Nust staffers looking forward to real change in the manner sport is administered and run in the country.
His firm belief is that modern science application in sport can lead Zimbabwe to lofty positions in world sport.
It is a fact that athletics may not generate as much interest and public admiration. But he was part of a revolution in Matabeleland in 1993 that had Zimbabwe turning its heads towards Matabeleland and recognising a group of coaches and athletes.
It was not just ordinary sportspersons, a generation taking over from the late Zephaniah Ncube, Elijah Nkala and Benjamin Songoya in athletics, a field dominated by coaches, the late Prize Ndlovu, Phineas Ajida, Abel Manyumeka and Elijah Ngwenya, the invincible BAC hockey team, Peking Stars (men) and Highlanders (women) basketball, Highlanders winners of Anniversary Cup, Unit Fairbridge Zone Six champions, Old Miltonians and Busters the top two rugby clubs in the country, to mention a few successes serenaded by Highlanders FC’S first Blue Ribbons Premier Soccer League title.
Khumalo then an unknown quantity in athletics was behind the registering of Sigonde Secondary School on the national map. His athletes shocked the provincial selectors when they topped the girls Under-16 and 20 cross country championships before making it into national championships.
“It was good and quite a surprise for athletes from a rural school previously unknown to dominate. We got to be known and respected as a powerhouse in athletics not only in Matabeleland North and Bulawayo Province as we were one until then, Zimbabweans across the