Robson Sharuko Senior Sports Editor
IT must be quite a challenge to lead a football club knowing it’s the one the President supports.
“At home I support FC Platinum. I also support the team which (Didier) Drogba used to play for . . . Chelsea,” the President revealed last January in an interview with the Russian media.
But, George Mawere appears to be doing a pretty fine job of the huge assignment.
He isn’t the type of administrator who prefers to be on the back pages of the newspapers every week, but rather wants to let his work do all the talking.
And, after another landmark success story in Mozambique at the weekend, Mawere has quietly been writing his name into domestic football’s history books.
When he was elevated to the position of FC Platinum president six years ago, the message he got was that this was an impossible job as, no matter how much they would try, it was likely they would come short in their grand mission.
There was a reason for the pessimism.
In their debut season in the domestic Premiership in 2011, FC Platinum had seen their dreams of making history by becoming the first club from outside Harare and Bulawayo to be crowned league champions since 1966, shattered in spectacular fashion.
Getting just a draw at home to all but seal the championship proved too high a hurdle.
The Zvishavane miners were firm favourites to, at least, achieve that against their only challengers, Dynamos, in the penultimate match of the campaign.
But, an own goal by defender Daniel Vheremu condemned them to a painful and devastating 0-1 defeat, and the Glamour Boys went on to be crowned champions the following weekend.
Back then, Mawere was the club vice-president. And, when he took over as the leader of the team, the scars of that collapse were still fresh and he watched as FC Platinum struggled to scale the heights they scaled in their debut season. However, he never lost hope, and when he hired Norman Mapeza to come and coach the team, the foundation was laid for them to finally achieve their dreams.
Of course, it didn’t just work out as plainly as they had hoped, with Mawere and his leadership convinced they had the right man for the job, being forced on many occasions to defend the coach after some fans had turned against him.
And, two years ago, the so-called curse, which some claimed had been cast on clubs outside the country’s two biggest cities when it comes to the pursuit for the league championship, was finally broken when FC Platinum were crowned champions.
Last year, they showed that triumph wasn’t a fluke as they became the first club, apart from Dynamos, Highlanders and CAPS United, to defend the league championship in the new millennium.
In Beira last Saturday, Mawere and his team celebrated yet another milestone in their adventure, when for the second straight year, they qualified for the group stages of the Champions League.
“At the formation of our club, we were clear that our intention went beyond simply joining the PSL,’’ he had earlier said.
“Ours was a mission to emerge as a force to reckon with, not only in Zimbabwe, but in Africa. The journey has not been an easy one. Over the years, we have had a fair share of heartaches and some moments to celebrate.
“We have learnt the virtues of patience and humility. Most importantly, we have refined our footballing philosophy to go beyond just winning matches, but exhibiting an entertaining style that is matched by a caring heart and the highest professional standards.
“This vision is no mean aspiration. It demands from us resources; both material and talent. It calls upon us to search for guidance and support of the nation at large.
“We hope our more experienced brothers, who have ventured into this challenging African football safari will be willing to lend a helping hand.
“We play to win the championship and there is no reason not participate in the Champions League. Funding such a competition is always herculean, our hope is to have frequent participation in the African Safari and when we qualify to take part we cannot say no.’’
FC Platinum have been in the news in recent weeks, after Mapeza left the club and then went on to sign a three-year deal with South African Premiership side Chippa United.
Amid all the speculation, including the controversy, Mawere has been providing the wise counsel, and the sober voice, arguing they remain committed to their cause.
The stunning success story in Mozambique, where FC Platinum showed remarkable fighting spirit to come back from two goals down and win the match 4-2 against UD Songo, was yet another example that, indeed, they will keep marching on.
Of course, it’s not an easy job, which even makes Mawere’s achievements very spectacular.