I don’t know how many of you believed that Joey Antipas was going to win the Premiership soccer title at the end of his second season at Motor Action.
After dicing with relegation at the end of last season, I should honestly admit that I didn’t.
However, the coach proved that he knows a thing or two about football and about how to motivate a team that had been waiting for a title since the turn of the new millennium.
When he arrived at Motor Action Sports Club last season to rescue a team that was surely heading for relegation, most people said that he had to overhaul the squad. He chose not to do that but tried to give confidence to captain Bhekimpilo Ncube and company.
The only notable acquisition he made was that of Allan Gahadzikwa from Shooting Stars.
The title and the more than 52 goals scored proved that he was right. “I coached the last six games of last season when the team was fighting relegation and we survived on the last day. It was a nerve-wrecking experience and I would never want to go back to that experience again.”
Now it’s the Mighty Bulls’ time to rejoice and to celebrate a splendid season that ended in style with a 3-1 demolition of Lengthens.
Antipas and owner Eric Rosen were in heaven after last Sunday’s game and I think that anybody can relate to their relief at winning the title after so many years.
“We were all apprehensive before the game and when (Enasio) Perezo scored that goal it was like getting the monkey off your back because it took the whole lot of pressure out of the whole team,” said Antipas.
“When he scored the second goal, we knew the long wait was over and we were the new champions,” added Antipas
I took time this week and visited the coach at his home in Braeside to talk about the championship glory, his personal life and the future.Before I got there I went to the Braeside shopping mall to check the mood after that historic achievement by one of their sons.
“He is very quiet,” said one of Antipas’ friends. “Shy would be the word to describe him.” There were many others: ruthless, generous, audacious, calculating, visionary. But shy? A strange adjective to describe Antipas as I soon realised when I finally got to his house. “I’m quiet but not shy,” Antipas kicked off the interview with a broad smile. “I’m humble, sports-oriented and I love my life,” he added. “I was born in November 1959 in Harare and I have lived my whole life here in Braeside.
“I attended Moffat Primary School before going to Morgan High School.” Both schools are located in the neighbouring Arcadia suburb.
“I played for Arcadia juniors in the late 70s before joining the senior team in the 80s. I played for Arcadia for a year before I was called into the national team and I played alongside great footballers like Carlos Max before I called it a day in 1988.”Antipas began coaching in 1992, starting with a Division Two side Cimas. “I started coaching in 1992 with Cimas, where I was working at that time and I was doing it to part-time but I took it seriously in 1996 when the team was promoted to Division One and Eric Rosen was the chairman of the board, he was serious about soccer.”
“Arcadia bought the franchise in 1998 and (Rafik) Khan was the chairman and Carlos Max was the coach and I was assisting him.” In 2000, Rosen decided to form the Mighty Bulls and we moved together and I was the coach and he was the chairman. Married to Fatima and a father of three, namely Quincy, Whitney and Sophie, he says when he is not with the team he spends most of his time fishing with friends.
A chain smoker by any standards, he revealed that he takes at least 10 cigarettes when he is on the bench. “It’s a bad habit,” he quipped.
“I take one before kickoff, one midway through the first half, one at the end of the first half, one or two at half time, another one just before the second half, one midway and another one towards the end of the game. 10 will be enough in one game,” said Antipas who was puffing out smoke the entire interview.
He also expressed his love for beer. “Ice-cold Heineken, Champions League beer, is my favourite,” said Antipas with a wide smile. Then he made a stunning revelation.
“You may not believe me but it’s the truth, I support Dynamos, it’s my favourite team on the local scene. On the international scene I’m a Red Devil, Rooney for life,” said Antipas.
When asked if he will take a Dynamos coaching job one day, Antipas said, “It’s difficult because Dynamos is coached by its former sons but if I’m given the chance why not?”
Antipas said he would savour his year’s achievement with his family in neighbouring South Africa. “I will spend Christmas in Johannesburg and new year in Durban with my family.”