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Amid the controversy, Magaya remains an oasis of calm

FOR someone in the eye of a raging storm, amid accusation his actions reduced the domestic Premiership into a social football league last weekend, Prophet Walter Magaya was surprisingly, the perfect image of a man at peace with himself on Tuesday afternoon.

Screaming newspaper headlines, including some which were accusing him of mocking the country’s top-flight football league, didn’t appear to concern him as he went about his business at his premises in the Prospect area of the Waterfalls suburb of the capital.

On the pitch of his football stadium, which remains under construction, his Yadah Stars’ were taking on Division One side Mushowani Stars in a friendly match while the prophet watched from the sidelines, occasionally barking instructions at his men when they got it wrong.

On the other side of the sports section of a complex that also houses a hotel, his handball team were having their practice session while, on the other side, the rugby players were also having their training session. The athletics team were also doing their bit, in terms of their preparations, while his women’s football team were about to start their training session on the other part of the field.

Three days had passed since Yadah Stars triggered a storm, across the country, when they crashed to that 2-7 defeat at the hands Bantu Rovers in a league match in Bulawayo where the absence of their coaching staff, from the bench, provided the base for a brutal post-mortem from a number of people who questioned such a move.

Jairos Tapera, the coach whose absence from that huge defeat at Luveve sparked all the controversy, is not around — as the Yadah Stars battle Mushowani in this friendly match — but Kuda Masaraure, the gaffer who was on the bench when this club won the ZIFA Eastern Region Division One League last year for a place in the Premiership — is firmly in the trenches.

Magaya appears very calm, occasionally exchanging jokes with his players who are not playing in that friendly match, asking those who are on the field to inject more effort and basking in the sunshine of this lovely afternoon.

“You guys should probably give me an award for generating all this interest in the league, even among people who usually don’t even follow what is happening in the league, because since Saturday I think I have been discussed just about everywhere in this country,’’ he says, as a smile flashes on his face.

“For us, football is about fun, the team is about giving us some relief from the pressures of life and, so far, save for two games against Dynamos and the one against Bantu, it has done just that.

“We are one happy family, as you can see, and the whole idea of this friendly game is to try and ensure that we get the players back together, we make them forget what happened in Bulawayo and I am happy that has been achieved and even the opposition team (Arthur Tutani) came to me to say that he noted the body language among our players, the morale among them, was just the right one today after all that they have endured in the past few days.

“I think you guys really can’t wait for our next match against Chicken Inn and, in your heads, you already have some big headlines because you are so sure we are going to be beaten, in a big way again, but football isn’t as straight forward as all that and that is what makes it such a lovely game.’’

And, after his men finish their training session, with a routine victory over Mushowani Stars, a team that has lost only once in the ZIFA Northern Region Division One League this season, Magaya puts his playing boots on and organises a challenge match between senior members of his PHD Ministries and his women’s football side.

The prophet features in those series of matches, in which club chairman Everson Chatambudza, chief executive Admire Mhango and consultant Wellington Mpandare also play, where there is a prize for the ultimate winners, and — amid all the laughter, the jokes, the fun — it’s hard to imagine this is the same club in the eye of a raging storm.

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