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Former soccer great sells airtime

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One of Zimbabwe’s best coaches to have come through the Premier Soccer League Solomon Kaseke has fallen on hard times and is now toiling on the streets of Kwekwe, selling mobile phone airtime for a living.

Kaseke was at one time Zimbabwe’s Under-17 soccer team coach but is best remembered for his brilliant stint at Shabanie Football Club, where he took the Premier Soccer League by storm, beating Dynamos in a thrilling final to win the BP trophy for the asbestos miners. He took them to third position on the league log standings in 2001.

The former coach is now a pale shadow of his former self. His health has deteriorated and he is battling to regain full health after suffering a stroke. He has been without a job for two years now and is surviving solely on selling “juice cards”.

Kaseke’s curriculum vitae is so colourful one can only ask what has gone wrong with Zimbabwean football, where one-time greats like the former Shabanie coach find themselves playing out the full riches-to-rags script and ending up roaming the streets of obscure towns selling airtime.

Having won the Division 1 championship with Shabanie, Kaseke led the Premiership debutants to a notable season in which they finished third in the log standings and was in the same year voted Castle Lager Coach of The Year before being appointed national Under-17 team coach in 2002.

In 2004, Kaseke was appointed head coach at Lancashire Steel FC before moving to Eastern Lions as technical director in 2008.

While at Lions he suffered a stroke and briefly recovered to take charge of Kiglon in August of the same year, later moving to Mimosa.

The once-nomadic football mentor now hangs around opposite the Kwekwe magistrates’ courts selling airtime.

“We don’t have pension schemes or other benefits in the event of ill-health or an accident. In Zimbabwe, coaches are paid according to performance and are the most frequently fired lot. In this case, a union would help improve the welfare of coaches in this country,” Kaseke said.

Although his doctor has now given the veteran coach a clean bill of health, Kaseke is yet to receive any job offers and could be sinking into oblivion.

“Things are hard for me at the moment this is why I am doing something while looking for a club to coach. Philip Mbofana in South Africa has been assisting me during all this time and I am very grateful to him,” he said.

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