Katanha: I have moved on

HARARE - His playing career might be blighted by an exhaustively documented age-cheating controversy but former Zimbabwe international forward Newton Katanha is now enjoying his game in serene Switzerland.

In 2003, while playing for then-Bundesliga club Arminia Bielefeld in Germany, Katanha was accused of age-cheating.

At the time of the allegations it looked like his football career in Europe was over and he was never going to play again.

Nine years on the former CAPS United forward is still earning a living playing the game that gave him fame and fortune.

His football journey has taken him to Malaysia, Russia and now Switzerland where he has been playing since 2007.

The Daily News on Sunday tracked down the 29-year-old Katanha, who is now on the books of FC Winterthur in the Challenge League which is the second tier of Swiss football.

“Everything is going well for me here at FC Winterhur and I can’t complain,” Katanha says.

“Although it’s not a big club we are pushing hard for promotion into the top-flight league this season.

“There are not many African players in our league. I think we are only about 15 but it is really competitive.”

FC Winterhur, who are three-time Swiss champions, currently lye in third place on the 10-team Challenge League log standings, seven points behind leaders Aarau after 11 matches.

This weekend they travel to face sixth-placed Vaduz hoping to put pressure on Aarau and second placed Wil, who were scheduled to clash last night.

Katanha believes the age-cheating accusations made him a stronger person that he is now and holds no grudges.

“All those allegations were started by someone in the media industry, who I thought was true friend at the time,” he says.

“I don’t know what happened or this person was just motivated by the need to sell newspapers using my name. I don’t know what the motive behind it all but I have moved on with my life.

“It just made me realise that not everyone likes to see you rise they only want to see you go down.”

Katanha goes on to explain what transpired during that period in 2003 which eventually led to him moving from Beifield.

“I was at home in Zimbabwe recuperating from a serious injury after which the allegations started to come out,” he says.

“It was a serious injury and in the end my club decided to let me go not because I had misrepresented my age.

“I still remember at that time those same people who were making the allegations said I had also been banned from playing in Europe but look where I am today.

“I went on to play football in Malaysia, Russia and now I’m in Switzerland where I have been playing since 2007.

“Do you think if I was an age cheat all these clubs I have played for since 2003 would have signed me?”

The Chitungwiza-born forward attributes the stability in his life now to his young family.

In 2006 he was married to his sweetheart Christine Matuma and the couple is blessed with a six-year-old daughter Shaniqua.

The young family has settled in Winterthur located in the canton of Zurich in northern Switzerland and with a small population of only 100 000.

Katanha’s club FC Winterhur was founded in 1896 and enjoyed their best success in the early part of the 20th century winning the Swiss Super League in 1906, 1908 and 1917.

The club plays its matches at Stadion Schützenwiese which is a short walk from the centre of Winterthur and has been their home since 1900.

After traveling all over Europe playing in different leagues, Katanha still harbours ambitions of coming back to play football in the local premiership.

“When I finish my career in Europe I still hope to one day to come back to Zimbabwe and play football for one or two seasons,” he says.

“I’m still in contact with (Alois) Bunjira and he’s doing great things in Chitungwiza with young aspiring footballers.

“There are a lot of good players in Zimbabwe and all they need is guidance and exposure. Here at my club our Under-18 team is always traveling around Europe to play against different teams.

“By the time these youngsters graduate into the first team they would be already experience because they are being groomed into professional players from an early age.”

Katanha has eight caps for the Zimbabwe national team but says he does not see himself playing for the Warriors again.

“There are a lot of things that needs to be done correctly at the national team. I’m still owed some money for the air tickets I paid with my own money from back when I last played for the Warriors,” he says.

“I have realised that most administrators in Zimbabwe treat players with a lot of contempt. We are not taken seriously.

“They just say, “Maplayer ebhora hamuvasize here ava, vanonetsa havana kurongeka. (Footballers trouble makers and they are not organised).”

“We are professionals and our livelihoods depend on money that we make from playing football.

“I have played in many European countries and the welfare of players is considered very important that why most footballers are millionaires.”

Finally the conversations goes to his old club CAPS United, who have been on the decline on the pitch since those back-to-back titles in 2004 and 05.

“With the internet I follow everything that is happening at home but I sometimes lose interest with CAPS because of the results,” he says.

Talking to Katanha one gets to realise that he is someone who has moved on with his life after the serious age-cheating allegations.

Post a comment

Readers are kindly requested to refrain from using abusive, vulgar, racist, tribalistic, sexist, discriminatory and hurtful language when posting their comments on the Daily News website.
Those who transgress this civilised etiquette will be barred from contributing to our online discussions.
- Editor

Your email address will not be shared.