HARARE – Mavhuto Chapani grew up in the small mining community of Muriel in Mutorashanga, kicking a ball and hoping one day he would play for his boyhood club CAPS United.
Just like in most mining communities, structures for the development of sports were available and at the age of 14, Chapani had already made it into the reserve side of a local team, Muriel FC, in the 1980s.
His exploits would see him move to join Jumbo Giants in 1990, where he also developed his football skills. In 1993 the lanky striker enrolled at the University of Zimbabwe, where he studied BSC in Statistics and Masters in Business Administration (MBA).
And whilst at UZ, Chapani played college football before being scouted by Zivanai Chiyangwa and Joey Antipas, who lured him to Arcadia United. At Arcadia, Chapani played alongside such players like Brendon Noble, Wesley Gilbert and Claudius Zviripayi.
After finishing his studies, Chapani was then employed by Mwana Africa having had a stint at the army side Black Rhinos.
“When I got employed by Mwana Africa, I played for Trojan FC alongside Alfred Chinodakufa, Francis Miti and Masani Muhoni,” Chapani tells the Daily News from his base in Coventry, UK, where he now lives.
“From Trojan I then played for Motor Action (2000) before moving to CAPS United (2003).
“Whilst at CAPS, I played alongside Blessing Makunike, Energy Murambadoro, David Sengu, Mike Temwanjira – just to mention but a few.
“I am a product of many able and brilliant coaches like Moses Chunga, Joey Antipas, Rahman Gumbo, Charles Mhlauri, Ashton “Papa” Nyazika and Charles Mandizvidza among others.
“Playing for Muriel was like my initiation into football, at Arcadia it was an eye opener. Motor Action was the development stage and at CAPS I matured as a full player and enjoyed most of my football there.”
Gifted with extraordinary physique and an innate ability to put the ball in the back of the net, Chapani was a constant thorn in the flesh to defenders both at Motor Action and CAPS United. A free scoring striker whose biggest attribute was his ability to play for the team, Chapani hardly hung onto the ball.
And true to form, he netted some priceless goals to help CAPS United carve their way into the history books in 2004 when they won the league title.
But Chapani had to make a big decision in his life, choosing between football and his profession. In the end he chose to pursue an academic career ahead of football.
Chapani has never looked back.
“I looked at several factors before I came with my decision. I was fully employed at Mwana Africa. Unfortunately as is the fact, football does not pay much in Zimbabwe and I had to stick to my job,” he says.
“That was the turning point. I saw it fit to let football go. A lot people criticised my decision but I don’t think if had settled for football I could have been where I am today. I don’t regret quitting football and life has never been this good for me.”
Despite a premature end to his football career, Mavhuto feels the fact that he played for his boyhood team CAPS and won the championship is enough consolation.
“Playing for my beloved CAPS United was a dream come true and as such ranks among my best moments. Scoring those goals brings with it happiness, not only for you but the multitude of supporters. Making people happy makes you feel great.
“Every season I played at any club I was always a contender for the top goal scorer. That’s what strikers are paid to do.”
Chapani still follows Zimbabwean football, but is saddened by the state of the local game, especially the demise of his old club Motor Action.
“My heart bleeds for (Motor Action owner) Eric Rosen. He put so much into football. To see Motor Action being relegated is like parting with something of sentimental value.
“I hope they will be back into the top-flight league soon. Football has become dynamic, and for as long as we don’t keep up to the changes then we can as well forget making inroads on the international stage.”
Chapani, who has just finished his Masters in Biostatistics, is married and blessed with two daughters, Ashley and Laura, and a son, Lincoln.