Robson Sharuko Senior Sports Editor—
PROPHET Walter Magaya has revealed, for the very first time, the serious reservations that some senior members of his PHD Ministries had over affiliating their football club in a domestic Premiership bankrolled by the country’s beer brewing giant amid fears such an association would damage their brand and send the wrong messages across the world. The football-mad prophet, in his first in-depth interview with a national newspaper since he shepherded his Yadah Stars into the domestic top-flight league, told The Herald he had to move mountains within his ministry to get their backing, and blessings, for the club to be affiliated in the Castle Lager Premiership.
Magaya, who was wearing his club’s replica jersey with a Castle Lager logo on its sleeve, also revealed:
l His Yadah TV will bid to secure the television rights of the domestic Premiership, when the top-flight league’s deal with SuperSport ends this year, and his mission was to have the matches screened on Yadah TV, with some of them also beamed live on ZTV as part of the ambitious deal.
l With just a call to all members of his ministry to start supporting the team, he could transform Yadah Stars into the most supported football club in the country, overnight, with an average of 60 000 fans at their home matches at the National Sports Stadium, but he doesn’t believe this is the right time to make such a call.
l He had already started creating a number of football clubs in Botswana, Zambia and South Africa — where he says his ministry has a bigger membership than the one back home and where he says he enjoys a bigger following — and it was his dream to have a club that will play in the ABSA Premiership.
l Contrary to the widely-held view that he was only investing funds into football, he had channelled a huge chunk of money into athletics, basketball and rugby, creating competitive teams across all these sporting disciplines, including having 680 athletes under his wing, and bringing in qualified coaches to take care of them.
l His mission was not to make a financial dividend from his investments into the various sporting teams, in a country where such dividends rarely exist, but he was only being inspired by the will to change the lives of athletes who could one day become stars and represent this country with distinction.
l He had the full support of his wife Tendai in his sporting ventures and his eight-year-old son had potential to become a good player and was now set to join the academy side of Spanish giants Real Madrid on a full-time basis.
l He was the main man at Yadah Stars, the one who calls the shots in as far as team selection the club’s training programmes and head coach Jairos Tapera — whom he described as a very good gaffer — was helping him implement his vision to turn his club into a very competitive one.
ON QUESTIONS ABOUT HOW HIS CLUB COULD PLAY IN THE CASTLE LAGER PREMIERSHIP?
‘’Remember I’m the prophet who brought Macheso to his church, I’m the prophet who brought Killer T and Winky D to his church. I believe that even if I don’t drink alcohol and I don’t support people who drink alcohol, I believe that every human being must be given a chance even in their wrong side, there is no way you can convert someone unless you are among them and sometime you need to be among the people so that you can convert them.
“I don’t support alcohol, it was a very big struggle for me and a very big prayer to agree for my team to wear a logo like this (pointing the Castle Lager logo on his team jersey’s sleeve).
“It was a very big argument in my church and people were saying we’re going for the Castle Premier League, how is it possible, what are we saying, how are we going to celebrate, are you going to give us alcohol and all those things and I said let’s give the boys a chance, let us show that in the Castle Premier Soccer League, God can excel because we are above all these things and this is where my agreement came and this is how I took it and I said I will carry it and prove to the world that God is alive.”
ON YADAH TV’S INTERESTS TO SECURE THE PREMIERSHIP RIGHTS
“Yadah TV will bid for the rights to have the television rights for the Premiership and I can tell you that we will offer far more than what the clubs are getting, in terms of funds coming into their coffers, from the current deal and we are confident we will secure them.
“We want the matches to be broadcast live on Yadah TV, but obviously, we won’t be able to have live broadcasts of Sunday matches because of our main service and those matches can be broadcast live on ZTV.’’
ON HIS MISSION TO TURN YADAH STARS INTO THE MOST SUPPORTED CLUB IN THE COUNTRY
‘’That’s an obvious thing 60 000 people watching Yadah Stars, you will see that, that’s an obvious thing, I have 280 cell groups in Zimbabwe who are dotted all over the country, I have got the largest number of membership in Zimbabwe, in terms of church, which automatically become part of our team by virtue of being part of our ministry, how can they support other clubs?
“It’s a purely church team. Jimmy Tigere is one of our singers in our choir. Brian Mapfumo is one of the security guards in our church, Leeroy Murape is part of security and ushering, the other Leeroy (Mavhunga) is in production, they are ministry workers playing football, they are known by everyone in church. (It’s only) I haven’t spoken about it in church.
“I’m waiting for a moment, I am a prophet, you will see, when you see supporters at the ground you shall see a mark, you shall start seeing the numbers, I haven’t spoken about it, I haven’t invited anyone, the day you see the numbers, 60 000 people in the stadium, you will start to see me at the stadium as well and you shall start to see what we call real football in Zimbabwe and so right now I am just with the boys, I’m setting them up, I’m making them understand where we are and I’m not playing in this league to be number two, come our fifth game against Chapungu you will see the scorelines changing.”
WHO IS IN CHARGE IN THE YADAH STARS TECHNICAL TEAM?
‘’I am the man in charge. Coach Tapera is good, he is a brilliant coach, he listens to my advice but when it comes to what is happening at Yadah FC, I am in the man in charge.
“I feel that God has given me an eye and it is not only an eye that can only open the prophetic but can also help in the sport which makes me to be advanced than whoever has studied it because I can teach those that have studied it through the eye of a blessing from God so I am able to teach and train because of the gift that God gave me and it is a gift that cuts across every ranks.’’