Danai Chitakasha in CAMBRIDGE, England
THE African football terrain is replete with great football clubs and many of them have visited Zimbabwe.
Most of them have left us with everlasting memories because of their performances and the legendary status of their players. One club, however, left us more than that. It left us with a nickname, DeMbare!
That club is Dinamo Fima but for some reason we called it Dinamo Di Fima. They played CAPS United in 1982.
Dinamo Fima is a Malagasy football club based in Antananarivo, Madagascar. The team has won the THB Champions League in 1982 and 1983. The team currently plays in the Malagasy Second Division.
When Zimbabwe emerged from the sporting isolation at Independence in 1980, sporting sanctions which had been brought about by the racist policies of the Ian Smith-led Rhodesia government, our clubs started participating in continental competitions.
The Africa Champions Cup and the Africa Cup Winners Cup were the two competitions which we could now enter. Dynamos dominated the league, especially in the first decade of Independence while CAPS United virtually made the Castle Cup and then the ZIFA Cup their own.
This meant that the two giants made forays into the African football terrain as our representatives. They went, saw and conquered but sometimes they were conquered too.
Great clubs like Shooting Stars (Nigeria), Kampala City Council (Uganda), Arab Contractors (Egypt), Power Dynamos (Zambia), FC Lupopo (DRC), AFC Leopards (Kenya) and Jets (Algeria) visited Zimbabwe. We enjoyed the football and some players in these teams gained legendary status with our fans.
Alex Chola (how many Cholas did we end up having in Zimbabwe) and Peter Kaumba played for Power Dynamos, Wilberforce Mulamba mauled CAPS United with AFC Leopards. Who can forget Ali Ferghani who played for Jets of Algeria? What about Ali Shehatta of Arab Contractors? These were all great players.
And yet the team which gave rise to the great nickname which has become a part of Dynamos’ folklore was not from Africa’s heavyweight football nations. It was a team from the island nation of Madagascar, hardly a football powerhouse.
They came, they competed and gained many admirers with their sleek passing game. In the end they lost 4-3 on aggregate against CAPS United. Charles Mabika, who was then embarking on what has now become an epic football journey as a commentator, liked what he saw. Dinamo Di Fima, who cares that they were simply called Dinamo Fima, led to an idea.
Boom, a new nickname was born, Dynamos DeMbare. It rhymed well, so it stuck!
The nickname gained traction and to date Dynamos still carry that moniker. They have had many but DeMbare stands out!
This is the joy of continental football, it creates everlasting memories. And just to spice it up a bit, who can forget Maji Maji Football Club? That is a story for another day!