Coach Chikumba eyeing league promotion in 2020
The foul stench from a clogged septic tank hanged authoritatively above the greenery surrounding a dusty field, where a group of players are going through their afternoon drill.
The choking whiff gets stronger with every gust of wind, but so does the intensity of the drill and the curiosity of a handful of fans who have turned up to watch Calendar Stars’ training session in Colored location in Francistown.
The Debswana First Division north campaigners’ fairytale rise to the country’s second tier league was masterminded by a rising living legend, former Notwane, Nico United and Sua Flamingo acrobatic keeper Vincent Chikumba.
He’s however quick to remind anyone who cares to listen that his career began at the now defunct Phodisong Rovers in Francistown; perhaps the Matobo native’s way of highlighting his link to the second city.
Chikumba who played for all junior national teams turned up for Notwane in 2000-2007, and left for Sua Flamingoes in the 2007/08 season.
He would later Join Nico United from 2008 until 2011 before hanging his gloves to focus on coaching.
He cut his teeth as a coach in 2012, joining Amakhosi who were playing in the second division.
Chikumba worked his magic and went the entire season without a loss to take Amakhosi to the first division where they finished sixth in their debut season.
The budding young coach however made a shocking decision to take a break from coaching.
“It can be a thankless job. Most of the time we use our own resources to help clubs and players,” said Chikumba explaining his shocking decision.
He couldn’t however stay away for too long as in 2016 he joined a struggling second division side Calendar Stars.
“They were eighth on the log when I joined. The following season (2017/18) we finished the league unbeaten on our way to being promoted to the first division north,” said a beaming Chikumba.
Now in his second season in the first division, following a respectable eight finish in their maiden appearance, Chikumba is looking for a top six finish at the end of the season.
Winning promotion in the 2017/18 season has also earned the Colored outfit a place in the inaugural Orange FA Cup where they’ll take on Maun Terrors.
“We are currently 10th in the league, and we are confident that we can leapfrog at least two teams and eventually break into the top six,” he said.
Together with his technical team of Boipuso Manyalo and Ndulamo Million, Chikumba has brought excitement in Colored as evidenced by fans who throng the small dusty ground whenever their team is playing.
“Its’ a pity we are no longer allowed to play on this ground, understandably so as there were security concerns, however our supporters continue to rally behind the team. We even have traveling fans, and this is enough motivation for us to do well,” added Chikumba.
“In fact we are looking for a top two finish in 2020 and then promotion to the Premier League,” Chikumba said with serious conviction.
While he has set his eyes on the BTC Premier League in the next season he’s also appreciative of the dynamics that may come to play.
“One of our main worries is losing players to more resourced clubs. In fact we have already lost a player to Green Lovers, this can’t be good because it strengthens our opponents,” he said.
Chikumba further told Voice Sports that it is near impossible to have ample time to drill his charges as most of the players are employed.
“These are not full-time footballers, we can’t afford to give them a monthly allowance, save for the little we give them to cover for their transport fares. They earn a living somewhere else but they are really talented footballers,” Chikumba said.
“I hope they’ll be patient until we achieve our Premier League dream,” he concluded.
As rapidly as the falling dusk, the interview came to the end and Chikumba swaggered off to join the rest of his team who had been patiently waiting for him.
Teenage boys can be seen navigating their way through the putrid green streams crisscrossing the only gravel road into Coloured.
As fans who had been watching the practice session in groups of twos and three also began to disperse, I couldn’t help to think to myself, ‘Phew, what a stinker!’