WATCH: Former Bosso star on joining struggle Smart Moyo

Nkosilathi Sibanda, [email protected] 

AMONG many youngsters who joined the trek to liberate the country from the throes of colonialism, were footballers.

Former Highlanders goalkeeper Smart Moyo was among them. While playing for the Bulawayo giants back in 1976, Moyo yearned to follow his brothers and friends who crossed into neighbouring countries for training as fighters.

Moyo was part of a talented pool of young players who had shown that they had a bright future in football.

He took the hard decision to quit football, at his prime, to go and be part of Zpra via Botswana and eventually Zambia, where he was to return brandishing the gun and singing revolutionary songs.

When relating his experiences, Moyo said he doesn’t regret leaving football to be a guerrilla. 

“I was inspired to go to war by my brothers who had long gone for training outside the country. I remember well that some players who went to war included George Moyo, Jabulani Mbambo and Danisa who was then the Under-18 goalkeeper at Highlanders,” he said.

It was in 1976, at the age of 16, that he decided to join the armed struggle.

“I played for Highlanders’ Under 14, Under 16 and 18 sides. Growing up at the time, in the 1970s, elders didn’t want us to hear or talk about going to war. But, towards 1976, when the war was intensifying, I was in Form Two at Sobukhazi Secondary School, while I also played for Highlanders’ reserve side. 

“When I had finished my Rhodesia Junior Certificate examinations, there was a match I played, though I don’t remember well which team we played against. After the match, we were given some allowances, $12, I think. I had to convince my other cousin, as I told him that we now had the money to go to join the struggle. We prepared and waited for the Pelandaba bus that was popular with transporting as many young people going for training,” said Moyo.

The footballer-cum war veteran said it was common that when one was going to join the struggle, they had to somehow notch a lie to their immediate families.

Moyo said he told his maternal grandmother in Matobo, Matabeleland South that he had got a job somewhere and would need her blessings.

“I told ‘uGogo’ that I had been promised a job and I needed lucky charms. I was with other brothers, a cousin and a nephew. We told Grandmother that we were to travel the next day. Little did she know that we had something big up our sleeves. 

“She gave us a portion of traditional medicine that we used to wash our bodies by the river. At the time, the belief was high that one had to strengthen themselves with lucky charms when going to the war. We crossed the Shashe River into Botswana and then proceeded to Zambia. On our return from the war, my assemble point was St Paul’s in Lupane,” he said.

Moyo said even at camp, they still played football.

“Even in Zambia we played football, but interestingly, I surprised many who thought I was only good at goalkeeping. I was also a talented in-field player, which really shocked many,” he said.

As Moyo and the rest of the freedom fighters returned, with the Lancaster House pact signed, they were sent to Assembly Points as the country was organising the formation of a unified army.

He had to leave being a fighter and go back to football at Highlanders because of an ear problem.

“On leaving St Paul’s, we went to Gwayi River Mine Assembly Point and then Llewellin Barracks for enlisting into the national army. We had to do medical check-ups and the doctors discovered that my ear was badly damaged, as it continually produced pus. I was told that I couldn’t continue serving as a soldier. I was demobilised. 

That is when I thought best of going back to Highlanders, in 1983.

“We were to meet up with coach, Bobby Clark, who was coming from Scotland. Among the goalkeepers was Peter Nkomo, Lawrence Phiri’s young brother Kingston, and I,” he recalled.

The former Highlanders goalie, vividly remembers the first Independence Cup between Dynamos and Highlanders at Rufaro Stadium, in the same year he returned to Bosso.

 That battle for the Uhuru Cup was won by Dynamos, as Gift Mpariwa guided the Harare giants to a 2-1 victory. Bosso got their consolation from Douglas “British” Mloyi.

Madinda Ndlovu was also the star of the day, turning out for Highlanders. In that action-packed match, Dynamos had six shots on target and Bosso had nine.

“Playing Dynamos was not like any other match. It was a tension-filled game. Everyone was talking about the game way before it started. The stadium was fully packed.

“By then Dynamos had players like David Mandigora, Gift Mpariwa, and Edward Kaswere to name a few. 

The match was interesting to watch. We went to half-time, it was one-all. The second half was full of excitement. It was a see-saw battle and well-balanced,” said Moyo.

He described how Bosso lost the match when he was beaten all systems out by DeMbare’s Mpariwa.

“We were heading for full-time when there was a cross from the right flank. When I went to cover the near post, there was Gift Mpariwa, unmarked. He was well positioned and had to nod it to the far post. When I was thinking he was going to head it to the near post, the ball went in. Dynamos lifted the trophy, beating us by two goals to one. That is the short of it,” said Moyo.

In 1984 and 1985, it was inter-provincial games.

Highlanders won their first title in 1986.

In that season, Moyo was to have a life-changing conversation with Clark. The goalkeeper was wanted by another team in the city, Merlin Husk. There was a lucrative deal that carried a promise of a job.

“The coach told me there was a team interested in my services. Honestly, it was not easy to move from Highlanders, but I needed the job. I accepted the request. I remember that we were training under floodlights at Barbourfields,  from 6 to 8pm. 

“The Merlin Husk guys came to see me at training and Bobby talked with them. Some players did not want me to go. I had already decided to leave and thankfully I got a job at Merlin and played for the team. Initially, I worked as a wages clerk and later on as a production clerk, until 2007.”

Moyo is still involved in football and does so as the Nyamandlovu District Football Association chairperson. — @NkosieLegend



You Might Also Like