Grace Chingoma Senior Sports Reporter
AS Dynamos star midfielder Denver Mukamba continues to receive the flak for his bad boy image, experts and those close to him believe he urgently needs help to exorcise demons related to drug abuse.
It has emerged that close family members and associates are worried that the 2012 Castle Soccer Star of the Year’s woes could worsen if he is not quickly assisted.
They blame Mukamba’s wayward behaviour on a group of drug abusers the player got entangled with during his stint in Johannesburg where he featured for reigning Absa Premiership champions Bidvest Wits.
Those close to Mukamba lifted the lid on the reasons why a player with so much talent and potential to go places had seen his career suffer stunted growth.
At the peak of his powers, Mukamba was so good enough that German coach Klaus Dieter Pagels handed him the captaincy of the Warriors in a World Cup qualifier against Egypt in Alexandria.
But those who know the player better told The Herald that his career suffered a reverse during his stay in South Africa where he got into drugs and subsequently lost his way, leading to Wits offloading him.
There was, however, hope that the player would turn on a new leaf once he returned home and relaunch his career.
Sadly for both the player and the club, Mukamba’s situation has deteriorated with the midfielder now an unwanted man at Dynamos.
Outgoing team manager Richard Chihoro said Mukamba had never been the same since his return from South Africa.
Chihoro was surprisingly axed as DeMbare team manager, ending an 11-year spell at the Harare giants.
He had moved from being an assistant coach to team manager when Mukamba arrived from Kiglon in 2011.
“I worked very well with him since 2011, when he was still a young player who went on to win the Soccer Star of the Year Award. But I don’t understand what happened when he returned from South Africa.
“He returned a changed man, his attitude had changed and we don’t know what had frustrated him.
“He was full of excuses. He would miss training and say ‘I was sick, I am sorry I couldn’t phone you’ and next time he would repeat it and would have more excuses.
“At the end of the day, everyone got fed up and decided enough was enough,’’ Chihoro said. The Dynamos executive have since met and resolved to respect coach Lloyd Mutasa’s decision to blacklist Mukamba and club president Kenny Mubaiwa said they are now looking at how they can navigate the remainder of his contract.
Mukamba’s case has also drawn the attention of FIFA and World Anti-Doping Agency member Nicholas Munyonga who suggested that the player should get help from experts.
According to the Warriors team doctor, the midfielder needs help for a “psycho-social problem’’.
“From the issue at hand, it’s more psycho-social. If you check on issues of drugs in sport, there are about 10 anti-doping rule violations that are there.
“A good number of them obviously would relate to actual issues related to proper evidence, for us to say he has taken a banned substance. At the moment there is no targeted testing unless someone does the unusual, and random testing can happen on competitions and it is difficult to just say someone has abused banned substance.
“Speaking from what we read, the substance which he is alleged to take, falls under stimulants, which are prohibited in competitions only. “From a psycho-social point of view, he would need serious rehabilitation. I am sure if we want him to get help there are experts involved. There are a lot of clinical experts around that can be approached to do that,” Munyonga said.
Also raising his concern on the player’s welfare was Footballers Union of Zimbabwe (FUZ) president Desmond Maringwa, who said they have tried to engage Mukamba.
Ironically before he plunged into disciplinary problems, Mukamba used to attend FUZ programmes on anti-doping.
“He is our member, we have called him a number of times but hasn’t come and only promised. We are making efforts to engage and try to assist. He also needs help from his club. He is still young and can resuscitate his career because he is a talented player.”
As an organisation which deals with players, Maringwa says they are always trying to raise awareness on drug abuse.
“From our out-of-contract programmes that we have been doing, we had a topic on Drug Abuse. We have a lot of players abusing drugs and many things which are happening are a cause of concern. But drugs simply kill players’ careers and it becomes an addiction.
“We have been trying to educate them but drugs involve resistance and there are cliques of players involved in these issues. It’s only that Denver plays for Dynamos and gets a lot of publicity, but we have a number of players involved.
“As a union we cannot be there daily so the clubs can assist here. We have talked to players about friends they befriend as we have realised at times that they wield great influence and bring unwanted things to them. But at the same time, we can’t choose friends for them but advise that they have to be a careful lot.”
Article Source: The Herald