By Muziwethu Hadebe
“Buya phela Tshomi sidle, dobha leyi ipiece, leyi ngeyami” (Come we share my lunch, Pick this piece, this one is mine).
This was last Friday at Luveve Stadium as the late Barry Daka shared his lunch of Chicken and Chips with me as we watched PSL returnees Bulawayo City FC play two pre-season friendly matches against Southern Region Division one side Talen Vision, alongside new Bulawayo City FC Manager Ronald “Gidiza” Sibanda.
Daka who was 71 years old at his death followed every Bulawayo City FC training session and matches for all the age groups in his role as the Technical Director and is credited with setting up the club’s junior structures which is now one of the best in a city rich with junior football.
That the U18’s won the 2019 Bulawayo Province Division 3 title and with it a promotion into the second Division under his belt and Ali Dube with the assistance of upcoming coaches Innocent Mapuranga and Bruce Tshuma speaks volumes of his love for developmental football.
Perhaps it’s something not surprising for someone who grew up playing youth football under the City of Bulawayo Youth clubs as well as playing under BAFA (Bulawayo Amateur Football Association) until he moved to play for Highlanders Football Club in 1965.
Maybe it’s also not surprising that the soft spoken mentor went on to work for the City Council for a good 26 years under the department of Housing and community Services, playing a key role in the council’s sports department as well as Housing office administration department.
“I am grateful to BCC for giving me the opportunity to work for the local authority for 26 years while I was involved in football at the same time,” he told me last Friday as we watched the two friendly matches.
Daka later moved to play for Wankie and got the team promoted into the first Division while winning the Castle Cup with the colliery side after beating Dynamos in 1973.
His love for Bosso saw him return to the Bulawayo club only but briefly as along with other players they moved from Bosso to form Olympics FC which was sponsored by Archer Clothing at the time in 1976. He was Player/Coach at the time.
He explained to me that their brave move confirms that Football money issues started long back.
“It was the money issues that saw us set up Olympics, but our sponsor also pulled out and we were lucky to secure Supersonic and the team was to be known as Supersonic and we had the likes of Boyce Malunga who had joined from Zimbabwe Saints,” Daka explained to me as we enjoyed the lunch while watching the friendly matches, with one or two laughs and questions from “Gidiza”.
Daka returned to Highlanders in 1983 in a coaching capacity and is credited with assembling the strong Bosso of the 80’s that had the likes of Peter Nkomo, Madinda Ndlovu, Alexander Maseko,Tito Paketh, Sydney Zimunya, Willard Khumalo and many more. It was under his leadership that Highlanders won every cup competition on offer in 1986.
Always an achiever Daka was to later assemble a strong Rail Stars side that got promoted into the PSL before he moved to Botswana where he won the league title and a number of cup competitions in that country.
You don’t easily get the football hero or legend status without representing your national team. Daka played and later went on to coach the national team in various capacities.
He has the Cosafa winners’ medal, Picked silver with the U23 during the All Africa Games in 1995 as assistant to Wesley Grabowski. He took a risk and was assistant coach as well to Gibson Homela when the national team travelled to an Ebola hit DRC. He was also in the structures of the famous Dream team under Reinhard Fabisch and most recently was Technical Advisor to the mighty Warriors.
As I spent the three hours with him last Friday I realised that this was a man with a wealthy of football information that a few tapped into for recording purposes.
“We should put this information on video Topi,” I said as we parted after the two matches.
Little did I know it was to be the last time to see him. I however cherish the 3 hours I spent with him last Friday and the various encounters I had with him in my football life including at times finding him negotiating entry into the stadium to watch our top flight football. Maybe we need to honour our legends while they are alive.
Rest in peace Topi, Mdala, Bhibhiza, Barry!!!