PETER Leondios, the sponsor of Townshend and Butcher Trophy competed for by clubs in the Bulawayo Amateur Football Association (Bafa), has paid tribute to pioneer players of the tournament.The Bulawayo businessman saluted many heroes who have been involved with the tournament and encouraged other sports bodies to honour their stars. Past administrators and players have been honoured by the sponsors and Bulawayo Amateur Football Association.
Charles Chunda, the vice chairman of Bafa, said they would continue to recognise outstanding former players and administrators.
“In the past we’ve handed out medals to our legends, we’re trying to dig into our archives to find out who we could honour in line with what Leondios wants,” said Chunda.
He said several prominent Zimbabwean football personalities had played in the tournament since its inception in 1957.
Leondios said he was happy to see the event having promoted the growth of the game in the city.
This year’s cup final to feature Golden Hotspurs and Madamara at Mzilikazi High School marks the 57th year in which the tournament is being played.
“We’re proud to have associated with the game’s Who is Who in Bulawayo. It’s an endorsement that it has truly been a good feature on the entertainment and sporting scene in Bulawayo.
“As a sponsor when you see some players who have played in the event going on to be national icons, it gives you the confidence to keep on supporting the game of football,” said Leondios.
Gibson Homela, decorated both at club and national level, confirmed playing in the tournament with some of the biggest names to emerge from Bulawayo in the game.
“I played way back in the early 1960s when we were still in Bafa,” said the Zimbabwe Saints and national football legend.
Leondios said Homela leads a cast that includes Gibson Makanda, Jerry Vera, Chester Makanda, ABC Rusike, Edward Dlamini, John Walker, Billy Sibanda, Douglas Mutemi, Edward Dzowa, Kainoti Luphahla, Peter Nkomo, Dumisani Ndlovu, Joseph Dube, the late Mackenzie Sibanda, Barry Daka and Lawrence Phiri that have played in the tournament.
“We’re proud to note that people like Homela 50 years down the line are still active in the game. There are other legends too like William Sibanda, Mackenzie Sibanda, ABC Rusike, Edward Dzowa, they’ve become part of the game and tournament’s folklore.
“Through our small gesture, we’re sure we’re nurturing more talent and leaders. As we host this year’s tournament we would like to honour those that have been part of the event since 1957. Without them, as sponsors we would not have had reason to hang on. More often people forget the route they have travelled in sport, it’s important to always remember those who were there before,” said Leondios.