Scottland is finally here for Scott…as 30-year dream turns into reality

ISAIAH Chapter 60 verse 22 says: “At the right time, I, the LORD, will make it happen.” It speaks to the need...

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Scottland is finally here for Scott…as 30-year dream turns into reality

ISAIAH Chapter 60 verse 22 says: “At the right time, I, the LORD, will make it happen.”

It speaks to the need for patience as well as reinforcing faith. Crucially, Isaiah 60 verse 22 asserts that everything happens when God decides that it is time and that there is no other who holds that power except him.

Many would be forgiven for saying this rings true for businessman-cum politician — Scott Sakupwanya — who is a passionate football fan.

You would have thought that Sakupwanya, a benefactor to a number of the country’s top flight football teams such as Dynamos, Yadah and Highlanders, had done enough to prove his mettle.

Yet, the youthful MP for Mabvuku-Tafara constituency has gone to purchase and establish his team — Scottland FC — which is plying its trade in the ZIFA Northern Region Soccer League. Named after Scott, the team has been doing well on the pitch and off it.

On the pitch, it is trailing seasoned campaigners and leaders Black Rhinos by six points, having played 11 games. Off the pitch, Scottland has created the zing whose buzz has seen it draw big crowds — whether be at home or away.

Last weekend’s clash with the impressively-run Golden Eagles away at Ellis Robins High School in Mabelreign, drew a huge crowd that had former Warriors, PSL greats, politicians, businesspeople, hordes of journalists and ordinary people, among those who turned up on that wintry Saturday.

The brass band and choir can only be rivalled by Simba Bhora FC, whose founder, Simba “Buju” Ndoro, like Sakupwanya — is a lifelong CAPS United fan. Scottland are the culmination of years of service to the local game by Sakupwanya, who has loved the sport since his boyhood. His passion for football goes back to his days as a CAPS United junior.

BIG BOYS CLUB: Scottland FC owner Scott Sakupwanya with the club’s
marquee signing Denver Mukamba.

Then, Sakupwanya was driven by a desire to follow in the footsteps of Mabvuku heroes such as the late Joe ‘‘Kode’’ Mugabe, Brenna ‘‘Baba vaGari’’ Msiska, Stephen Jonhera, Innocent Mugabe, Albert ‘‘Dhalala’’ Mabika, the Mugeyi twins — Wilfred ‘‘The Silver Fox’’ and William ‘‘The Golden Fox’’ — who famously played for both the Warriors and Black Aces.

 And while Sakupwanya ultimately did not make it as a top flight league footballer, his passion for the game did not wane, hence his involvement — mainly as a benefactor at local clubs over the years. Earlier this year, he unveiled a sponsorship package for local football giants Highlanders through his company Better Brands.

The deal covers the club’s operational costs and extends to the club’s developmental side Bosso 90, the junior teams as well as the women’s team Highlanders Royals. But it is the formation of Scottland FC in the weeks following the unveiling of that partnership, that marked the fulfilment of a long-held dream for a man who at one stage attempted to buy his favourite PSL team, CAPS United.

The arrival of Scottland on the professional football scene also means Mabvuku-Tafara which has been the hotbed of local football talent over the years — the latest in the production line is current Warriors captain Marshall Munetsi — now has a Division One team.

And while establishing themselves as a team that can hold their own in the local first division, the long term vision for Sakupwanya is to bring premier league football to Mabvuku-Tafara. “My desire is to see the team become a force in local football.

I am driven by the desire to uplift my community and this team is not just about me fulfilling my dream, but rather it’s also a fulfilment of my promise to empower the youth by giving them a shot at playing professional football.

“Now the next big step is to work to bring PSL football to Mabvuku-Tafara. Mabvuku has produced so many luminaries in Zimbabwean football and needs a team befitting its status. “After all, we have had Circle Cement and Gunners in the past, and it’s high time we had a team in the PSL,” Sakupwanya told the Daily News On Sunday last week.

Scottland team manager Tawanda Chidzidzi, right, barks instructions
to his players during the drinks break midway through a recent home
game at The Heart Stadium.

“Scottland have acquitted themselves well in the first 11 rounds of NRSL action, and we’re in sixth position going into this weekend’s matches with 20 points — six behind log leaders Black Rhinos,” Sakupwanya said further.

The good start to life in Division One has led to suggestions that Scottland may well push for PSL promotion at the first time of asking. But Sakupwanya insists they are bidding their time and are happy to first establish themselves in the NRSL before pushing for bigger things.

 “We are not putting ourselves under any pressure to push too hard too soon. We are obviously happy with the way we have started the campaign in Division One, but we are also aware that Rome was not built in a day. “So, while we also know that anything is possible in football and we may find ourselves making the step up immediately, we are not obsessed with the idea and will take things one step at a time. There is no rush,” Sakupwanya added.

Scottland team manager Tawanda ‘‘T-One’’ Chidzidzi concurred. “We are still effectively a baby and right now we are learning to rawl and then walk. “So, there is no pressure there. We are learning day by day and gradually we will get there. Of course, we also know that results matter and will be going for a win in every game we play.

“We are also cognisant of the fact that it is not always going to go our way and that it may take time before we make that big step up. “But if it happens the other way and we find ourselves in the mix at the end of the season, we will take that as well,” Chidzidzi told the Daily News On Sunday.

The nucleus of the squad has a strong Mabvuku-Tafara imprint, with at least half the registered players hailing from the area.

There is good experience too. The starting line-up includes captain God-knows Mangani, veteran Lincoln Zvasiya, Serge Mbirimi, Gugulethu Moyo, Tawanda Chiminya and Munashe Dinyero — all of whom have their roots in the area. Mabvuku-bred local football legends Wilfred Mugeyi and Ephraim Mazarura have also been occasionally assisting the team’s technical team led by another Mabvuku son, William Nyasulu, a former striker at the now defunct Kiglon FC.

Chidzidzi says the Scottland mission goes beyond just Mabvuku, hence the squad’s national outlook. “Our roots are in Mabvuku-Tafara hence the core of the team is from the area. But football is a national sport. So, the team also has to adopt those characteristics.

“That’s why we have players like Denver Mukamba (formerly of Dynamos) and Denzel Khumalo (formerly of Highlanders) among others in the team,” said Chidzidzi, who added that they would be looking to add to the squad in the current transfer window. Scottland are currently playing their home games at The Heart Stadium in Prospect, Waterfalls, but Chidzidzi says the plan was to ensure the team would eventually get to stage their home games in their home area.

“We are happy that the community in Mabvuku-Tafara has been rallying behind the team and we actually have a situation where we need to avail more buses to take our fans to our home games in Prospect. “But the long-term plan is to make sure we upgrade the facilities in Mabvuku-Tafara so that we get to play our home games there.

“Remember, Honourable Sakupanya said this football team is his gift to the people of Mabvuku-Tafara and beyond. “We want to develop young players and give them an alternative avenue for employment. “But they also need to be playing in front of their community and the community also wants a team they can call their own. That team should be playing in Mabvuku and our plan is to make sure that comes to pass,” Chidzidzi further told the Daily News On Sunday.

Meanwhile, Scottland continue their NRSL adventure when they host Cranborne Bullets at The Heart Stadium today. While the beat goes on, it is happening in God’s own time as he says this in Isaiah 60 verse 22. This rings true for Scott and Scottland.

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