ON December 1, Qadir Amini stood at the peak of his football mountain when he was crowned the 2023 Castle soccer Star of the Year, a crown that is bestowed on the most outstanding footballer in the Premiership if not in Zimbabwean football.
It surely was the proudest and most memorable occasion in Amini’s career as he joined the likes of George Shaya, Peter Ndlovu, Stanley Ndunduma, Moses Chunga, Japhet Mparutsa, James Takavada, Mercedes Sibanda, David Mandigora, Ephraim Chawanda, Agent Sawu, and Ephert Lungu amongst the previous winners of this accolade.
Prior to that there were the likes of Peter Nyama, Tendai Chieza, Ernest Kamba, Moses Moyo, Shacky Tauro, and the great George Rollo of Arcadia United
Other notable winners include Memory Mucherahowa, Energy Murambadoro, Tauya Murewa, George Nechironga, Masimba Dinyero, Maxwell Dube, Dazzy Kapenya, Wilfred Mugeyi, Stewart Murisa, Cephas Chimedza, Clemence Matawu, and of course Zenzo Moyo.
Not mentioning the new generation of stars that followed — Rodwell Chinyengetere, Murape Murape, Ramson Zhuwao, Danny Phiri, Denver Mukamba, Washington Arubi, Dennis Dauda, Hardlife Zvirekwi, Joel Ngodzo and Walter Musona.
There is no question that Amini deserves to be among these soccer greats considering his outstanding contribution for Ngezi Platinum Stars in their winning of the 2023 Castle Lager PSL title.
The Mhondoro-Ngezi based side finished eight points clear of second placed Manica Diamonds and thanks to Amini’s goals, assists, and his overall team play.
Even the hardest of Dynamos fans admit that Amini was miles ahead of their own Donald Mudadi and deserved the biggest individual crown in Zimbabwean football.
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Amini is, on top of skill, a disciplined, dedicated, and committed, role model who helps to inspire an upcoming generation of footballers as was the case with the late great Stanley ‘Sinyo’ Ndunduma and later on Peter Ndlovu.
For those who never had the opportunity to watch Ndunduma in action, Sinyo won the Castle Soccer Star of the Year, first in 1981 when turning out for Caps United and later in 1985 when in the colours of Black Rhinos.
In 1981, he was also named Zimbabwe’s Junior Sportsman of the Year, probably the only footballer in Zimbabwe to claim a sportsperson of the year award, although, at junior level.
It is good for Amini to join a band that includes Ndunduma and thanks to his sideway dribbles, his knack for goals and his ability to find the right team mate at the right time that convinced the close to 90 panellists that he was the man for this crown and the $7 500 that went with it.
Sadly, though, there was a joke elsewhere where Herentals’ Tinotenda Benza was voted the Fans’ 2023 Player of The Season - Really?
Probably the April Fools’ Day was shifted from April 1 to December 1 because the outcome of the vote makes a mockery of the genuine if not true Zimbabwean football fan who would never vote for Benza against the too many players who turned on the style in the Premiership.
In fact, the sponsors Delta Beverages should consider scrapping this award because it is becoming a joke as what has happened in 2023 also happened in 2022 when the same Benza won the award.
On both occasions, questions were raised just after the selection of the 11 finalists for the Castle Soccer Star of the Year Award on how Benza made it among the 11 finalists considering his all season contribution.
Even in 2022, there was a huge contingent of football followers who felt Benza did not deserve a place among the 11 finalists but instead team mate Blessing Majarira.
Now the same Benza that the too many Thomases across the country doubted his nomination among the 11 stars has once again gone further to claim an even bigger accolade.
This is a crown Benza himself is unlikely to celebrate winning because deep down in his heart, he knows he does not deserve but maybe the likes of Tanaka Shandirwa of Dynamos.
We all know that the base of Herentals’ fans is drawn largely from football loving students from Herentals College, and they with no doubt played a big role in swinging the vote in Benza’s favour.
The question is: Did they do that out of genuine belief that Benza was the best in the Premiership or that they were coerced and told whom to vote for ?
Surely, it is wrong for our football to continue living in the shadows or on the wishes of influential people who ultimately call the shots or pull the strings on everything that happens in the Zimbabwean game.
Surely votes count, and in this case Herentals fans truly voted for Benza but if they were really for football, they should have done our football good by not voting at all rather than give the award a bad name.
What does their conscience tell them when they vote for a player whom they know for sure did not deserve the honour but instead some other footballer?
This is what makes our football - A LAUGHING STOCK.
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