Zim's 'first family' of football

HARARE - Zimbabwean football has over the years been graced by football family dynasties.

But if ever there was a crown to honour Zimbabwe’s first family of football, then it would go to the Chieza family of Mhangura, a family of no fewer than eight competent footballers who enjoyed first team football during the infant stages of the National League in then Rhodesia.

The pick of the Chieza crop was undoubtedly Tendayi, Winston, George and Itayi, a quartet whose extraordinary exploits on the field of play earned them the moniker “the famous four.”

Tendayi, at one time a member of the national side, was a key figure for the copper mining outfit during its golden era when it won a number of trophies including the league title.

Midfielder Itayi and winger George Chieza were also part of the formidable Mhangula side, which had no less than eight members of the Chieza family all in the same team at one time.

Itayi was in the Rhodesian squad that narrowly lost to Australia at Lourenco Marques in Maputo,
Mozambique, in a World Cup qualifier in 1969.

Dribbling wizard Alick Masanjala, brother to the Chiezas, remains a star for his contribution to the Mhangula side in the 1960s and early 70s.

The Chiezas’ dominance at now defunct Mhangula Football Club, a cup winning and championship chasing team, still draws flattering complements in the now dormant small mining town of Mhangura.

“We dominated the team’s starting XI not because of favouritism but because of talent,” Hecta Chieza, who was a goalkeeper of repute during his heydays tells the Daily News.

The copper miners made their first impact on the league in 1971, when they claimed runners-up position to Callies in the race for the league title.

That season also saw Mhangula lift the Chibuku Trophy, then the country’s premier domestic competition.
It therefore came as no surprise when their captain Tendayi scooped the Soccer Star of the Year award, the second time he had won the award following his 1967 exploits.

Masanjala was nominated as one of the 11 Soccer Star finalists.

The following year, with the Chiezas at the heart of the team, Mhangula went on to win the Castle Cup after beating Dynamos 3-0 in the final.

The side would win their last prominent accolade in 1975, clinching the BAT Rosebowl trophy.

Their fortunes took a turn for the worst as financial problems hit the mining company, which bankrolled the team.

The dwindling finances at the mine saw Mhangula FC disintegrate, with some players moving to greener pastures and others quitting football altogether.

Ultimately, Mhangula was relegated from the Super League into the lower divisions in the late 1970’s.
The Daily News caught up with Hecta Chieza this week to retrace one of Zimbabwe’s greatest football families.

Hecta was part of Mhangula FC from 1966 to 1969 before enrolling for a teaching course at Nyadire mission.

“It all started when Gideon Chieza (uncle) was appointed welfare officer for Mhangula Mine in the late 1950’s.

“He helped pioneer the Mhangula Football Club. By then myself, my brothers Itayi, George, Tendayi, Patrick, Winston were still school kids at Mhangula Primary School where ironically our father (Enock), Gideon’s brother, was the headmaster. Gideon moulded the system, the family, not that we were a family team but we felt like it whenever we played. It was at this early stage where the seed for the love of football was sown.”

The Chieza name grew in popularity at Bernard Mizeki College.

Although by 1963 the school went  just up to Form Three, it caused havoc among established schools like Fletcher High, Goromonzi, St Augustine’s, among others.

Players who contributed to the invincibility of this team included the Chieza brothers Tendai, George, Itai and Masanjala.

The Chiezas went on to help Mhangula to numerous accolades before leaving the club when it fell on hard times.

“It was never the same again; the motivation from the company was no longer there. It was a case of the economy going down. After that the club never rose to those heights again,” Hecta says.

Hecta is now into construction, Itayi is late, Winston is now based in the United Sates, Tendayi relocated to the UK while George is based at Zisctosteel in the Midlands.  

“We still have a lot to contribute to football, we have the love of football but the space to express that love in Zimbabwe is tight, it’s just too congested.”

Mhangura Mine has since closed shop, leaving the football club relying on meagre resources and no real sponsorship.

The copper miners are teetering in the lower divisions.

All that remains for many football lovers in the Mashonaland West town is the memory of that golden family that once illuminated Zimbabwean football.

Comments (2)

Thanks for the article,i have been looking for information on this football dynasty...however in the article you also talk of 8 brothers but i can count 6 here,who are the other 2...thanks

lot chitaksha - 25 October 2014

Thanks for the article,i have been looking for information on this football dynasty...however in the article you also talk of 8 brothers but i can count 6 here,who are the other 2...thanks

lot chitaksha - 25 October 2014

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