SPORTSPEOPLE across all disciplines, have generally been accused of living in the ‘fast lane’ and eventually committing all sorts of social ills including taking performance-enhancing drugs.
For instance – it’s common for fans of other disciplines to sling mud at footballers, stating that footie stars are the major culprits of the above mentioned ills.
Last week, one of Brazil’s most celebrated players Ronaldinho Gaucho, was arrested along with his brother in Paraguay on allegations of possessing fake passports.
If one is to juxtapose this episode with home, it is apparent that some local footballers have adopted and adapted the tradition.
The tradition of brushing with law and abusing their bodies through alcohol, sex and drugs.
This writer has a strong conviction that the biggest causative agent for this ‘disease’ is the money and fame that visits their previously poverty stricken lives at a tender age.
The modern era footballers boast of fat bank accounts with names like former Warriors skipper Benjani Mwaruwari, Peter Ndlovu, Knowledge Musona, Khama Billiat, Nyasha Mushekwi and Harlington Shereni easily come to mind.
Most of these players earned six figure digits and had prodigious talents, but their off-pitch behaviour found them wanting.
I have hereunder randomly picked some of Zimbabwe’s football stars who earned a fortune and blew it, and some who made wise investments and championed philanthropic work.
The greatest Warriors’ player of all time, Ndlovu was originally spotted by scout John Sillet, prior to his official signing from Highlanders by one Terry Butcher, as a teenager in 1991.
Nicknamed Flying Elephant by his Coventry City fans, the Bulawayo bred star was an instant hit at Highfield Road.
In 1992, he carved his name in history by becoming the first African footballer to play in the new English Premier Soccer League.
On the pitch he had a squeaky clean image and scored brilliant goals with his deft touches.
Having grew up in the dusty streets of Mzilikazi, and getting all the money, fame and glory – women flocked to him.
Typical to unlike poles of a magnet, women of all colours and creeds were attracted to him.
He remains my all time favourite local footballer, having been nicknamed Peter Ndlovu during my heydays at primary school.
However, I took an ‘oath’ to deliver objective journalism and would not want my love for him cloud my judgement and compel me to twist the correct narrative.
Women killed his career and fortune, but the fame stuck on him!
Scoring was his middle name and he never missed his targets on and off the pitch.
Resultantly, several women came forward claiming that he had fathered their children and child support clams piled at the courts.
This meant parting with a lot of money in child maintenance fees and his then manager Winston Makamure might have contributed to his financial dip (at some point in time).
He married musician Sharon Dee before a messy divorce and recently he has been dragged to the courts for child support by his other baby mama.
He has a penchant for coloured ladies and this writer would frequently spot him at Sports Diner in Harare, in the company of such species- despite the fact that he is a tee-totaller.
At some point, things were so low for him that he struggled to complete his Mahatshula house in Bulawayo and his investment vehicle MAP Holdings had gone under.
The transport industry venture was in conjunction with his older brothers Madinda and the late Adam.
He was to be rescued by his late homeboy from Binga, Nkulululeko Sibanda who ran Highfield United through his Twalumba Holdings.
However, he left the team after a fall out with Sibanda.
There were sensational claims that Ndlovu would watch porn videos on his mobile phone in the company of young players.
That was never substantiated.
Charismatic as he is, he caught the eye of South African billionaire Patrice Motsepe who employed him as team manager for Mamelodi Sundowns .
He is back in the game and lessons were learnt for him and other younger footballers to follow after him.
Benjamin Mwaruwari, often known simply as Benjani was groomed at Air Zim Jets and the eagle eye of Jomo Sono spotted him.
He took him to his club Jomo Cosmos where he was to later move to Europe in 2001 to join Swiss side Grasshopper Club Zürich before moving to Auxerre a year later.
He signed with Premier League club Portsmouth in 2006, then went on to play in England’s top flight for Manchester City, Sunderland and Blackburn Rovers before returning to Portsmouth in 2011.
According to celebsmoney.com, Benjani’s net worth in the first quarter of the month is between US$100 000- US$1million.
The site did not, however, reveal how they arrived at that figure.
Benjani’s love life has been a closely guarded secret and he has been involved in several philanthropic projects including a soccer tournament in Bulawayo
He is believed to own several mansions in and outside Zimbabwe.
He is an inspiration and role model to the new crop of footballers and he has been out of the media.
The bad boy of local football. He was born in December 1992 and began professional career at Kiglon before joining Dynamos in 2011.
He is immensely talented but his off pitch behaviour is not brilliant.
He won two Zimbabwe Premier Soccer League cups , Mbada Diamonds Cup and Soccer Star of the Year award.
For Tuks, he made twenty appearances and scored 3 goals in all competitions before returning to Bidvest.
He is said to be an alcohol addict and the money he earned playing abroad is not commensurate with his lifestyle.
Before his latest move to Ngezi Stars, a video of a pale looking Mukamba playing plastic football in the dusty streets of Highfield went viral.
At his peak, he caused a stir when he bought six crates of beer for a fan at PamaStones shopping centre in Highfield.
The fan (name withheld) was left shell-shocked after this extravagant gesture.
He is the best example of a Shona idiom ‘mapudzi anowira kusina hari‘ (loosely translated to opportunities go to those who are not ready)
Harlington Shereni and Gilbert Mushangazhike are other stars that fell from glory to grass with Shereni at one time relying on Mwaruwaru for survival, in the same breath the late Francis Shonhayi turned to Tauya ‘Flying Doctor’ Murewa for survival.
Pint sized strike Khama Billiat needs to realise that a stitch in time saves nine, his off-pitch behaviour has been questionable lately.
I leave it there, its a story for another day.
The moral of this piece is the need to have fall back plans and proper managers and guidance for our local footballers.