HARARE – Marshall Munetsi credits his strong Christian faith and belief for the blessings he has received both in his playing career and personal life.
With religion playing a huge role and influence in his life, Munetsi has been doing a lot of philanthropic work in his community and surrounding areas.
The Warriors midfielder, who now plays for French Ligue 1 side Stade Reims, pays schools fees for 60 underprivileged children at his former school Donnybrook Primary and Mabvuku Primary schools.
Munetsi has also stepped up his charity work following the outbreak of coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic by providing groceries and basic necessities to the needy folk of Mabvuku, Tafara and Caledonia.
With thousands losing their jobs and income due to the current lockdown and travel restrictions, making ends meet for most people in these areas has become difficult.
His donations have gone on to help the elderly, orphans and the sick as they have received food parcels in these difficult times.
“Where l am already is a great testimony in itself as God found favour in me and guided me through the people l met to be where l am today and being able to know the Word in itself is another testimony,” Munetsi told the Daily News on Sunday from his France base last week.
Munetsi could have never imagined that his life would turn out this way while growing up in his impoverished community.
Just five years ago, the midfielder was on the books of South Africa second-tier club Ubuntu Cape Town and virtually an unknown entity in Zimbabwean football.
But after a strong showing in only his first campaign with the club in 2015-16 season, he caught the eye of Soweto giants Orlando Pirates’ scouts.
Munetsi was invited for a trial at Mayfair and after impressing the coaches, the club immediately offered him a deal.
As a mere 19-year-old, breaking into the star-studded Sea Robbers’ first XI would have been difficult so the club loaned him out to fellow top-flight side Baroka FC.
In Limpopo, Munetsi flourished during the 2016-17 campaign after stepping up into the Super Diski and the Buccaneers recalled him to Mayfair for the following campaign. With his ability to play in central defence, central midfield or in an attacking role, the Zimbabwean featured for Pirates all over the park during a solid two-and-a-half-year spell.
It came as a surprise just before the start of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations finals in Egypt when Reims announced that they had signed Munetsi from the Soweto giants.
Straight after Zimbabwe’s elimination from the tournament, Munetsi went to join his new teammates in France to mark the beginning of a wonderful career.
During his first campaign in Ligue 1 during the 2019-20 season, the Zimbabwean went on to establish himself as a regular in the Reims midfield.
Although he grew up in the dusty streets of Mabvuku, Munetsi is now going up against marquee global stars like Neymar, Kylian Mbappe, Memphis Depay, Dimitri Payet and Houssem Aouar.
The Warriors international believes he has been able to achieve all this in a short space of time due to his faith in the Lord.
While growing up, Munetsi developed his skills at the now defunct Ali Sundowns junior team which gave most young players from the suburb an opportunity to use their talent and escape poverty.
“I loved football so much and my education as well; it was a huge dream of mine to play in Europe one day and it was through the help of Ali Sundowns Juniors who trained me and also to enhance my God-given talent.
“I also got help from a lot of great coaches like Lloyd ‘‘MaBlanyo’’ Chigove, Patridge ‘‘Mandela’’ Muskwe, the late Friday ‘‘Amayenge” Phiri and my junior coaches at Ali Sundowns coach Diara, coach White and coach Luvhe. Without these great coaches, l wouldn’t be here today and play the way l play.”
Using his earnings in Europe, Munetsi is now giving back to his community and credits his faith for always keeping him grounded and reminding him of where he came from.
“It’s by God’s Grace (that) we are able to be helping out and spreading the good Gospel through the Church and also giving hope to the people as sons and as brothers of the community.
“Mabvuku, Tafara and Caledonia is my home and l got a lot of help in my career and education from people there and it wasn’t only my family but people l hardly knew hence we also do the same to empower others like how they helped us.
“I grew up in a Seventh Day Adventist Church but later on as l finished high school, l could not attend the Saturday services because of football.
“A friend of mine by the name Tinotenda Muronda introduced me to the (Glory to Glory International Ministries) Church and that’s how l met Apostle Elliott (Bhakuche),” Munetsi added.
Glory to Glory leader Bhakuche paid tribute to Munetsi for not getting carried away by all the vices which consumed young footballers once they break into Europe and forgot to give back to the communities they emanate from.
“We can say that he is a child who was born carrying a prophetic name for his name means grace and kindness and he is spreading the same to many disadvantaged people regardless of the Church they fellowship with.
“His desire is for the community to know that there is a God in Heaven; he wants this programme to be a monthly feature that can even go beyond the Covid-19 era.
“Being a Zimbabwean he wants to spread this programme to every part of the country and we believe also that as a church, we will also spread our wings right across the country and preach the Word of God, heal the sick and help the suffering,” Bhakuche told the Daily News on Sunday.
Meanwhile, Munetsi has begun his sophomore season in Ligue 1 with Reims on a shaky note as they are yet to pick up maximum points after losing to Angers and Lille by identical 1-0 score lines before a 2-2 draw against Monaco last week.
Reims, however, managed to get an all-important win in the Europa Qualification where they edged Switzerland’s Servette 0-1 away last Thursday.
“At the moment, we didn’t start well as we would want but we are working hard on getting our season back on track.
“For now, the focus is with this great club Stade de Reims and winning as many games as possible,” Munetsi said.