Ricky Zililo, Senior Sports Reporter
AT a time when no one knows when the local football programme will start, Highlanders’ coach Mandla Mpofu has been keeping himself busy by selling agricultural produce from his farm in Bulawayo.
Mpofu is using his popularity to draw customers locally and in the diaspora to supplement his income.
The Bosso coach said potatoes and butternuts were from his family farm in Umguza District and also buys from neighbouring farms other products which he then supplies to his customers.
Mpofu said the Covid-19 pandemic lockdown had forced him to be hands on at his farm.
“I go to the farm three times a week, getting up at 5am and driving to the family farm to get produce, which I deliver to clients in the city. Because of the nature of my job, it was difficult for me to be hands on, but now I do collections and deliveries myself. I’m complementing the guys that have been doing the work and I’m enjoying it. There’s little pressure compared to football but what is important is that I can continue serving the people who’ve been supportive by giving them first class service,” said Mpofu.
“Most of the clients are Zimbabweans living in the diaspora and I also have local people and friends that are also buying my produce. Besides butternuts and potatoes, chickens have also been on demand. The other stuff like tomatoes, onions and carrots, I source from neighbouring farms,” he said.
Mpofu, who is also the Young Warriors and senior national team assistant coach, said during deliveries, he gets to exchange pleasantries with fans asking about Bosso and some mocking his “new found” part-time job.
“Reality is that I can’t afford to spend the whole day doing nothing. That is not how I was raised. To survive, one has to work and there’s nothing for free. I hope this will inspire other coaches, players and former footballers to look for means to supplement their income,” said Mpofu.
Last month, former Zimbabwe internationals George Mbwando and Zenzo Moyo challenged active and retired footballers to be innovative and find ways of making extra income.
Moyo noted that some sportspersons are shy of hustling and want to live “artificial lives” on handouts.
Mpofu seeems to be taking a leaf from ex-national team coach Charles Mhlauri, who, despite being in charge of academies in the United States of America, runs a poultry project producing at least 30 000 eggs a day on the outskirts of Bulawayo.
Mbwando dumped his football boots for spanners at the end of his career and is now a technician at an oil refinery in Europe.
Moyo, the Bulawayo City FC vice-chairman, is a thriving commodity broker. — @ZililoR