Where are they now?

Malvern ‘Sho’ Marahwa (32) is a former star of national junior teams. He made his name playing for the now-defunct former PSL team, Njube Sundowns.

“Pity the team later encountered problems that eventually saw it fold, but I really enjoyed my team there. That was a well-knit unit for some time,” said the former attacking midfielder.

His best memory was the ZIFA Unity Cup second round of 2003, in which they knocked out illustrious city rivals Highlanders, after a 2-1 win at Barbourfields Stadium.

“We played that game with great determination. We wanted to beat Bosso and we did. Unfortunately we went on to lose in the quarter final stages to booby side Shabanie Mine, but that match against Highlanders remains my best soccer memory.”

A product of the Zimbabwe Saints juniors, where he rubbed shoulders with the likes of Esrom Nyandoro, Butholezwe Mahachi and Brian Mugadza, Marahwa started his career with Beitbridge-based Border Strikers in the first Division. He became a household name before being snatched by Sundowns where he formed an entertaining midfield partnership with Stanford Ncube, Kelvin Maseko and the slippery Eson Phiri.

“We were a thorn in a flesh for any of the big teams and that gave us respect. They had the money and the supporters, but we had the talent,” he said.

But he has bitter memories about the club as well. In 2005, after just three seasons in the PSL, the club, based in the high-density suburb of Njube, got its first taste of relegation to the First Division.

“Soon after the drop, Hwange came knocking for my services, but management refused to clear me, insisting that I first help bring the club back to the elite league. I played half a season in the lower rung before I crossed to South Africa,” added the former player.

Having played in the PSL for three years, Marahwa drew several lessons that later helped him do well in the SA Second Division, where played for Springs United until 2008. “I enjoyed playing here because football is being run more professionally, even in the lower leagues,” said Marahwa.

He re-lived his memories with the national Under-17 and Under-20 teams, where he was one of the best players in the 1990s.

“Nothing beats the experience of representing one’s country at whatever level, but it becomes a bit more difficult when you go up because of a number of factors associated with national team selection,” he said.

Now employed in a private security firm in Johannesburg, he blamed political interference for killing the sport in Zimbabwe.

“Politicians have cost us quite a lot in life. They killed our economy and now we are suffering in foreign lands. We should be playing back home, but a majority of former players now live in poverty,” added the man who won two medals as the most disciplined player with Sundowns and the Ekhuruleni Cup with Springs United.

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