SHABANIE Mine FC are a poor club. One of the poorest in the Castle Lager Premier Soccer League and they survive from hand to mouth.
They survive from gate takings as well as handouts from well-wishers.
By Kevin Mapasure recently in Zvishavane
Their main supporters are poor, unemployed former mine workers, who can hardly afford basics, but sacrifice their little earnings just to watch their heartthrobs in action.
Because of their paucity in the purse, they lost several key players in the July transfer window and had to go for freebies to replace the talents that had sought greener pasture.
So much about the club is broken down and their cry for financial assistance is so loud and hardly missable.
Their home turf, Maglas Stadium, tells the whole story. The club is struggling to maintain the surface, which is no longer the flat green “carpet” it used to be when the former sponsors Shabanie Mine were still in operation.
The dugouts are broken. The grass on the pitch is in dire need of mowing. It seems those who maintain the pitch use a bowser to water it.
A visit there will not leave anybody in doubt that Shabanie Mine are a poor club desperate for a well-stashed sugar daddy.
But while their purse is poor, what they have in abundance and arguably as much as the most fervently followed clubs, is the passion.
While some rich clubs have been driven by their purses, Shabanie Mine have been thriving on the passion that is shared by both the fans and the players.
Their battle at the moment is with survival and watching them play in their favourite hunting ground convinces one that this is one team to stay up in the topflight.
The statistics speak of a team that knows how to thrive in its home confines.
This season, Shabanie Mine have lost only twice at Maglas and in the process, picked up four wins.
Their draw against Dynamos on Thursday was their sixth at home.
They have lost two matches against Bulawayo City and Highlanders at home, but it’s still hard to understand how that happened.
What is it about Shabanie Mine and Maglas? The answer to that question is the fans. Shabanie Mine supporters are no ordinary lot.
They have mastered the art of giving their team the advantage it needs at home, with tactics that include, among others, intimidation of both the visiting supporters and the players.
Former Shabanie Mine workers have stuck with their love, Bvaru Bvaru. With the mines having shut, most of the former workers are now jobless and poor.
They have now turned into small-scale illegal mining (kukorokoza) and Shabanie Mine FC is their heart and soul.
Even the arrival of wealthy FC Platinum, which has been the more successful club in the small mining town of late, has not turned the heads of these fervent followers of Shabanie.
NewsDay Weekender Sport sought to find out where such passion for a football club struggling for funds and for survival stemmed from.
“Shabanie Mine Football Club are our life. We love this team so much that even if it is relegated to Division One, we still follow them and fill up the stadium,” one of the cheer leaders who calls himself Madhera said.
“To us, Shabanie Mine is the only team in Zvishavane. It is the only team that truly represents this town and it’s the one that everyone wants to associate themselves with. Watching Shabanie Mine playing in the Premiership gives us joy. Watching home-grown players play with such passion also takes us to heaven.”
At the stand that houses the home supporters, it is written in bold black and white, “Shabanie Mine FC Supporters Only”, and it means just that.
No opposition supporter can dare try to mix and mingle with the claret colour-clad Bvaru Bvaru supporters.
To them, everyone else is an enemy and they do not have time for them.
Against Dynamos this week, they attended the match in large numbers, as usual at this ground.
An early lead by DeMbare flattened the majority of them. They struggled to recover from the shock and disbelief of going behind so early.
Yet the belief that they could still win did not fade away. Soon, they regained their voices.
They worship their heroes. Former Dynamos captain Farai Mupasiri is a mini-god there.
Even if he makes a mistake, they will not jeer. He is the captain and they eat from the palm of his hand.
Wait until they score. All hell breaks loose. Women and children, never mind the men, they go ecstatic and ballistic.
The small stadium can create a real cacophony, one that can rival some of the loudest.
Shabanie Mine supporters are loud and proud and their team is not just a source of entertainment.
Bvaru Bvaru is their life.