Sunday, 1 February 2015

'George “Mastermind” Shaya victim of cruel system'

HARARE - Successive Dynamos’ executives have shunned George “Mastermind” Shaya fearing he may use his legendary status to claim a stake in the country’s most successful club, reveals his wife.

Yet, “all he ever wanted” was to “help the club grow”.

Shaya has continuously been on the sidelines of the club he joined a year after it was established in 1963 before making a lasting impression throughout his 16 years of service.

“At the moment, I wouldn’t allow him to be involved with Dynamos,” Shaya’s wife of over 38 years, Agnes tells the Daily News on Sunday.

“I realised they want to use his name. The name he created for the club but nothing comes out of it. So it’s just best for him to stay away.

With a hearty laugh, the witty Shaya sarcastically interjects.
'George “Mastermind” Shaya victim of cruel system'
“But vakandidaidza ndingati handisi kuda (If they call me can I say no)?” he asks.

His wife is, however, adamant that most people try to use her husband’s popularity for selfish means.

“Vakaita kamwe kamentality (They has this mentality) that because he is popular, he will help them take over the club,” she says.

“Most of the meetings that would take place even since the days of (late Dynamos chairman Morris) Sifelani, those meetings would take place here in this house.

“I would listen. They had that mentality that since he was more popular as a player they thought he would mobilise people so that he becomes the leader.

“I don’t think they liked him. I don’t know about the current executive. But those before did not.

“You would see that all the bad things that would be said like the ‘Shaya executive.’ It was all of them there but the name that would come out was ‘Shaya.’ They wanted to use his name.”

The 64-year-old Agnes says so heated had the leadership politics at Dynamos become, that they feared for their lives.

“Zvakawanda zvanga zvakutaurwa, zvanzi ‘tomupisira imba’ (There were a lot of things being said, some were saying ‘let’s raze his house down’). It scared me. We decided he should just stay home,” she says.

Considered by many to be the greatest Zimbabwean footballer of all time, Shaya was diagnosed with dementia last year.

The Dynamos and Zimbabwe legend is one of 35 million people worldwide who live with dementia, a broad category of brain diseases that causes a gradual decrease in the ability to think and remember events.

His present condition has left Agnes worried, dreading that “his state” leaves him exposed to manipulation.

The couple’s marriage goes way back into the early 70s.

Agnes fell in love with the then sprightly Shaya in 1973 and has since been behind the Zimbabwe football great every step of the way.

A nurse by profession, Agnes took this writer down memory lane.

“Girls of long back, we didn’t just accept a man from the outset,” she says. To which Shaya jokingly retorted: “Kunyepa (lies).”

Reflecting on Shaya’s heyday, Agnes says her husband was not only extremely talented but incredibly loyal to his team.

“He was a good player. He was a dedicated player,” she says.

Such was Shaya’s love for football that at night “he would dream playing football.

“He would kick me throughout the night and I would tell him ‘you are kicking me’,” she says.

“I love reading. He loved reading novels. We had heaps of novels. He would spend most of his time reading to keep his mind clean for the game.”

At 69 approaching 70, Shaya says age “has already caught up with me,” but has no regrets on and off the pitch.

At his prime, Shaya won the Soccer Star of the Year a record five times in 1969, 1972, 1974, 1975, 1976 and 1977.

His illustrious achievements precedes him in Zimbabwe’s sporting history, but his modesty and humility off the pitch continues to endear him to the footballing community in the country and abroad.

Shaya rose to prominence at Mai Misodzi recreational centre in Mbare alongside such players as Chita Antonio, unknown to him at that time was the great legacy he would one day set in Zimbabwe’s football history.

The Mastermind was part of a formidable Dynamos side that scooped a record six pre-Independence league titles in the then Rhodesia National Football League in 1963, 1965, 1966, 1970, 1976 and 1978. His achievements will always remain a fitting example to those afforded the opportunity to play the beautiful game in a free Zimbabwe.

His wish for his beloved

Dynamos is easier said than done.

“Let’s register Dynamos as a private holding then we can take it from there,” he says.

“You know how as people we talk but we have to seat down vamwe vanoti takatambawo bhora so tinomira papi (others are asking, we also played for Dynamos where do we stand)?

“I think we did that once. We sat down and said ‘so and so how long did you play, so and so how long did you play.”

Shaya was saddened that individuals who claim to have Dynamos at heart “have no vision for the club,” and that the team has nothing to show for its overwhelming popularity and proud history.

“Surely, to look at a team like Dynamos, no club house, no ground, surely a club with such a big history, it’s sad,” he says.
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