Collin Matiza 

RONNIE Chihota, the man who changed the face of Zimbabwean football in the early ‘90s, will be buried this afternoon at his Chihota homestead.

Chihota, the president and one of the founder members of the now-defunct Premier Soccer League side, Blackpool, during the early 1990s, died at Dandaro in Harare last Friday morning.

He was 76.

Family spokesman, Brian Kashangura, said the late Chihota’s body lay in state at his village last night ahead of today’s burial. 

Chihota is best remembered for being one of the seven Harare businessmen who pulled their resources together and bought the Premiership franchise of police side Black Mambas.

The other businessmen were the late Joel Salifu, Joe “Pajero” Musenda, Ben Muchedzi, Lecture Mpange (late), Ginger Chinguwa and Forbes Chitava. 

They named their new side Blackpool and it took the local Premiership by storm under the guidance of coaches Joel “Jubilee” Shambo and Shacky “Mr Goals” Tauro. 

‘Ndochi’, as the colourful Blackpool outfit were affectionately known by their supporters, wrote their own piece of history as they were the first club from Zimbabwe to reach the semi-finals of the Africa Club Cup Winners Cup in 1995. 

They lost to JS Kabylie of Algeria.

Football commentator, Charles “CNN” Mabika, described the late Chihota as one of the most dedicated football administrators he has ever met. 

“Ronnie Chihota was one of the most passionate and hard-working black football entrepreneurs and administrators I ever knew.  As the head of an exciting and dedicated seven-man Blackpool board of directors, he led by example. 

“At ‘Ndochi,’ their motto as leaders was about ‘giving’ and not ‘taking” from the game which sadly has been a horrendous and sickening manifestation amongst some of our football leaders in the past two decades or so.”

He added:  “I had an excellent relationship with ‘Big Ron’ as we called him. 

“He would readily avail himself for an interview and you could ask him anything about his great club, his vision for it and would also offer his thoughts on improving our national game. 

“He was also one of the main influencers in my football media industry journey as he would offer constructive criticism for my work.”

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