Sikhumbuzo Moyo, Senior Sports Reporter
ACTING Highlanders chairman Modern Ngwenya has defended the team’s surprise tour of the border town of Plumtree last Friday which happened without the knowledge of the club’s leadership.
The tour, courtesy of Plumtree-based businessman Micah Sibanda, came barely 24 hours after the team returned from an away league win against Tsholotsho FC in Beitbridge that saw the team enduring a 650km road journey.
Some Bosso board members were incensed that the team’s Friday morning training session set to be held at Plumtree High School was aborted due to the poor state of the field, although it has emerged that there were never any plans for the team to train there in the first place.
Sources said the businessman used the Bulawayo giants as a marketing gimmick for his image and businesses as he was facing stiff competition from other well established retailers in town.
The claims seem valid as all speakers at the Friday event, including Chief Masendu, heaped praises on Sibanda. The chief also urged the Plumtree Town Council management to avail land for the businessman to expand his operations.
“As a Matabeleland South chief from Bulilima district, there is a lot that I have seen being done by Golden Harmony (Sibanda’s supermarket) and his wife; he has done a lot in my district. They are a couple with love, who like to assist. When we built a clinic in Masendu, they had a hand, we built a school in that area called Mazwaligwe Primary School, they also had a hand. We are seeing their good deeds every year in this district where they always donate,” said Chief Masendu.
However, Ngwenya said the tour was never a marketing gimmick for Sibanda’s image and businesses as Highlanders were apolitical and will never prop up anyone.
Sibanda took care of the team’s fuel expenses to Plumtree and also donated five match balls.
“Look, this guy invited us there and also told us that Plumtree High School grounds were in a good state for the team to train, but when we inspected the ground ourselves together with the technical team, we realised that it was not in a good state. The whole plan was for the team to spend the day in Plumtree, but that fell apart as we had to rush back to Bulawayo for the afternoon session,” said Ngwenya.
The team left Plumtree just before 3PM.
“We don’t understand how such a trip can be undertaken without the knowledge of the board and we still wonder why the rush. The media, we understand, was not even told and had to follow when the team was already halfway there. Answers shall be demanded,” said a board member yesterday.
Ngwenya said it was actually the coaches that had said the media must not be informed of the team’s training itinerary.
“The coaches said we must not tell you guys, it was not our idea not to tell you,” he said.
Despite bringing the small town to a standstill on Friday with the tour, head coach Erol Akbay was visibly not a happy man, especially after missing the morning training session.