BY HENRY MHARA
CAPS United owner Farai Jere has paid tribute to Steve “The Dude” Kwashi, who died in Harare yesterday, for laying the foundations of the club’s success in later years.
The former Green Machine coach succumbed to COVID-19 complications at his home in Harare yesterday morning.
He was 67.
His son, Fungai confirmed the death, saying that funeral arrangements are being made in line with COVID-19 protocols.
“He passed on this morning and because it was due to COVID-19, we will not have gatherings. We are looking at burying him as soon as is possible in line with COVID-19 guidelines,” he said.
Condolence messages flooded the social media as soon as news filtered in that the man who guided Caps to their first league title post-independence in 1996 had died.
Jere said Kwashi, who helped his club win trophies, including the Charity Shield, BP Cup and the Independence Trophy, will retain a special place in the hearts and minds of the Caps family.
“He led a steamrolling Caps side whose attacking and beautiful football was way ahead of that time,” Jere said.
“They say it’s never easy to manage a team of stars, but Kwashi found a way to do it with authority and came up with a very efficient Green Machine which went beyond all the others in the independence era.”
Jere said after years of living in the shadows of Dynamos, Kwashi helped end that dominance.
“Now we could stand in the same winners’ enclosure as league champions and it was a very proud moment for everyone connected with Caps.”
Their league success in 1996 with a squad boasting of such stars as Alois Bunjira, Stewart Murisa, Frank Nyamukuta, Mphumelelo Dzowa, Farai Mbidzo, Joe Mugabe and Cheche Billiat was the beginning of a successful story for Caps who went on to win other league titles in 2004, 2005 and 2016.
“There is no secret that we built that success story on the strong foundation laid by Bla Steve. He will always be a Caps hero and he was a humble gentleman who was a football man through and through from his days at Zimbabwe Saints to his days at Black Aces before he arrived at Caps,” Jere said.
“He also had passion of working with the youth and his Young Warriors did well to qualify for the African Under-17 Championships in Guinea in 1999.”
Bunjira said he will remain indebted to Kwashi for the contribution to his career.
“I could write a book about this man. We have a lost a great footballing legend,” Bunjira said.
“He was a very nice man full of humour and wisdom. Bla Steve played a great part in my career. For a start, he played a big part in persuading me to join Caps. We held numerous meetings at his workplace at In Sport, until chairman Shepherd Bwanya took over (in the negotiations).”
He narrated how Kwashi believed in his talent.
“I had never trained with Caps United even for one minute. I had signed for Caps when I left for Poland. When I came back three months later, I arrived on the day Caps were playing in the Charity Shield final against Blackpool. He called and asked me if I wanted to play. I said yes. I was in the first 11 and dished out a man of the match performance.”
“Not many coaches can have such confidence in a player. Over the years he would allow me to express myself which made me grow. Great coach he was and I will forever appreciate,” the 1996 Kingsgate Player of the Year said, adding that he is devastated.
“It is always sad to lose someone who has been a big part of your life. But at the same time, I am happy I got to meet this great man. I am happy God brought him on this earth. Bla Steve delivered on his mission.”
Kwashi’s coaching career was cut shot following a road accident in 2001 which saw him go into a comma for months.
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