Chipungaz’s unfinished dream in rugby

He was among the few blacks who dominated in the elite sport within the farming town of Karoi since the early 1990s and trained juniors from high density suburbs of Chikangwe and Chiedza.

BY NHAU MANGIRAZI FORMER Karoi Select rugby player and coach who had dreams of nurturing young generations from local ghetto, Wellington Chipungaire passed on in Kadoma on Monday.

He was laid to rest in the City of Gold where he was born in 1971.

He leaves a wife and several children.

He attended a Kadoma Primary School before enrolling at Prince Edward from 1985 to 1989.

He was among the few blacks who dominated in the elite sport within the farming town of Karoi since the early 1990s and trained juniors from high density suburbs of Chikangwe and Chiedza.

Chipungaire has been described as a dedicated sportsman, who will be sadly missed.

Norton Member of Parliament and fitness trainer Temba Mliswa said the late Chipungaire was one of the unsung heroes of this country.

‘‘It’s a very sad loss. He was a humble, dedicated and honest person who had his beliefs in sports than anything else. He was a hard-worker who never lived to accomplish his mission. He left a legacy that will forever be remembered,’’ said Mliswa.

Long time friend and player mate Elvis Chirenje said he knew the late Chipungaire in 1989 when they were rugby players at Prince Edward school.

‘‘He was among the few blacks playing rugby and when he moved to Karoi in 1991, he joined Bernard Mlambo who was the only black player in the second team then. As a left wing, Wellington left his own mark as more players came on board. I used to play on the right wing. In 1992, he was promoted to play among other players under Gold Leaf League that had teams including Old Harare Sports Club, Gweru Sports Club and Old Georgians among others in 1993 to 1994 season. We had other farmers like Henk Tablilanch, Grant Gardener, Andrew Herbst, Beou Oustitseun, Wlliam Shewst, Dave Walters Roffy Cocaine, Deun Nerp among others. Our team was demoted as we were the weeping boys,’’ explained Chirenje.

The Karoi Rugby team was forced to join Mashonaland Country District that had some teams from mostly farming towns.

‘We won some shields including the Mike Appel shield when we played against teams like Mvurwi, Makonde, Banket, Marondera and Beatrice among others. We won the Windmill Cup in 1996 and he was part of the winning team. We had more players coming on board including Farai Chiwara, Brian Chidavaenzi, Chikuruupenyu Nyahoda among others,’’ said Chirenje.

He confessed that they failed to play for the national team as they could not attend trainings on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

‘‘Wellington remained in Karoi following the land invasions in 2000 that forced some players to relocate to Harare myself included.

‘‘I vividly remember him saying he wanted to leave his legacy among the youth that saw him being hired at Rydings, Karoi primary, Chikangwe among other local schools in Karoi town. He was talented and ready to help others,’’ added Chirenje.

The team was coached by Collin Green, a former headmaster at Lomagundi College, George Elcom and Chris Sheppard, Deon Nerp who was once a player coach among others.

Sheppard expressed his heartfelt condolences over Chipungaz’s death.

‘‘Wellington was an extremely dedicated player who always gave his best. He was a committed player,’’ said Sheppard in a telephone interview.

Another United Kingdom based former rugby player Wellington Chiremba confirmed that the late Chipungaz had reached him out to help train young boys into rugby as a sport for social upbringing.

‘‘I was introduced to the late Wellington in 1996 after I was introduced by Shawn Chuchu and he was a dedicated player. He was a very influential person in my career. He was playing as prop and tight head or loose where we exchanged positions. We had the late Trymore Mburuma playing on lockout. There was never a time that he would discourage others although we were few blacks then. Our coach was Chris Sheppard and Wellington was always ready to help us. During rugby festivals at the beginning of every season, he was there to play to raise funds for the team at Kadoma Cotton Ball Festival, Banket Rugby festival among others and he was there with others,’’ added Chiremba.

He confirmed that the late player was part of the programme aimed at giving back to the community.

‘‘Late last year I was in Karoi and I did not meet him as he had been taken to Kadoma after falling ill. I had come to meet and discuss his community based initiatives of propping up the sport in our communities. My experience with the late Chipungaz molded me to be responsible and caring. I was willing to help him as he didn’t want to make money out of it but giving back to the community. Rugby is all about giving back to the society, commitment and team work. I wish his dream could be fulfilled as he wanted to be part of the society that made him popular. He was a role model as rugby brings discipline to the players,’’ said Chiremba.

Chiremba is still playing and coaching the Under 11s in Lexes in England.

‘I am giving back to the community and it is the only way I can pay back to the community. Unfortunately, Wellington passed on without achieving his dream to assist the community. I wish someone could take over from where he left,’’ said Chiremba.

The late player had a short stint in Zambia where he also coached.

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