Juju and Zimbabwean football

madinda(Intro) HARARE The use of Juju to influence the outcome of matches remains one of the most controversial issues in local soccer. No team will ever admit to using the supernatural to win those crucial points or trophy. But just talk to any soccer coach or player and they will readily admit to knowing someone who once used or uses juju. (Pictured: Former Highlanders coach Madinda

In an effort to gauge just how widespread the use of juju or belief in juju is in local soccer, The Zimbabwean on Sundays Grace Chirumanzu last week spoke to several players, former players and coaches to hear their views on this subject that many people would rather avoid discussing in public. Excerpts:

Daniel Veremu, Shooting Stars player:

It happened a lot in Division One. You march onto the field and suddenly you get to feel so weak in the joints, feeling so dehydrated and tired yet it is only warm up. I was with Pride (Tafirenyika) at Harare United and he is well known as a very fast-paced and skilful player, but at such times he played as if his legs were tied up.

Sometimes it goes to the extent of seeing players putting something in their boots before the game then they go on to score goals like crazy, despite not performing outstandingly the whole afternoon.

And at some venue we travelled to this year, we went into the changing rooms and there was pork all over. Officials from our team had to clear it for us. And I think that even if the pork was just meat and not juju, still that kind of incident would have some negative psychological impact on players.

Former Darryn T player who declined to be named:

I started my professional career with Darryn T. I remember we used to perform many juju rituals. The night before every game, we used to go to camp. There, just before we went to sleep, we would bath in dirty water mixed with roots from unknown herbs. We were not allowed to dry up using a towel. We were just supposed to go to bed wet like that.

The following day, just before the game, we were made to put some powder in our mouths and had to spit it out as soon as we walked onto the pitch. In the game we would just fly. I will never know if these really worked but I remember some guys really got pumped up and were very positive after those rituals. ?

Remember the Castle Cup final against Caps United when we won 4-1? That day we had some stuff which looked like fluff from pillows stuffed in our socks. It was so uncomfortable but we soldiered on. We had guys who believed in those things and they were in terrific form. One of our teammates, George Nechironga, however, would refuse to take part in any of these rituals. However many believed his refusal to use the team juju was because he had his own super juju that he feared could be weakened or diluted if mixed with the juju prescribed by the team. But all this juju-business happened behind the back of Wieslaw Grabowski, our Polish coach who hated the practice. It was a top secret, and I must admit some of the stuff we did was great fun.

Madinda Ndlovu, former Highlanders coach:

There is a time when as a player or coach one settles into an organisation with its tradition. There will be some executive members who want the limelight and in that case they start doing everything in their power to try and get the team win.

I will be lying if I say that I have never seen it (juju) before. But I have always believed that this is my God-given talent and I should not abuse it in any way.

But sometimes I wonder how a sangoma (herbsman) would give someone muti so that he gets rich when the sangoma is living a very poor life. If his juju can make one rich, why is he not rich himself?

Njube Sundowns team manager Admore Chivero:

edie_chivero_njube(Pictured: Njube Sundowns manager Admore Chivero — Funny things are happening around) Funny things are happening around. At Kiglons home ground (Chibuku stadium), there is a funny choking smoke that appears from the corner of the stadium the moment the game starts and it suddenly dies out when the game ends. It is just mysterious.

And I hear many Harare teams are seeing a prophet who has been praying for them to win. But since most of them are reportedly going to the same muporofita the matches have been dominated by so many draws, if you have noticed. I guess madzibaba/muporofita will be trying to be fair (laughs).

Because of that issue of maporofita who are against eating pork, other teams have come to believe that his power can be neutralized by parading pork everywhere, especially in their opponents changing room.

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