BEDFORD Chimbima’s two children are also very sporty just like their ex-rugby star father, but they are not quite like a chip off the old block.
Son Brian Chimbima was so confident of playing in the English Premier League, arguably the best domestic football competition in the world, but a trial stint with London club Crystal Palace was cut short by a bad knee injury that kept him out of the game for two years.
The 24-year-old Brian, who scores goals for fun as his father used to score tries for Zimbabwe’s rugby team, is now fit again and turning out for Abbey Rangers FC in the Combined Counties League Premier Division as a striker.
His 19-year-old sister, defensive midfielder Mufaro Amanda Chimbima, played for the old Queens Rangers Women Football Club in the FA Women’s National League South before being awarded a football scholarship last year by a university in Texas, United States.
“If they get the opportunity and they are called up (by Zimbabwe), they would love to play,” the 51-year-old father-of-two says, who played more than 50 games for Zimbabwe in rugby. “Last time they came home for holiday, they wanted to have a feel by training with local teams, but it was off-season.”
Both were born in Zimbabwe, with Brian leaving at the age of seven while Mufaro Amanda was one-and-a-half-year-old when the family settled in the United Kingdom. It is not much of a surprise to the former Sables maestro that his kids have taken up a different sport.
Chimbima Sr was no slouch at football himself and, by his own admission, he would have chosen it ahead of rugby had circumstances been different back then.
“I think I was a better footballer than rugby player but because at the then Group ‘A’ schools, football was only played from form four to form six, so I ended up playing rugby,” Chimbima says.
“In Upper-Six I played both first team football and rugby and away from school I continued playing youth football. Some of the guys I played with at school and at youth level — the likes of the late Kuni Matambanadzo, Maxwell Magidi, Abraham Chimukango, Willard Chimwemwe, Eddison Chimusoro — ended up playing in the Premier Soccer League or Division One.”
Raised in Harare’s high-density suburb of Dzivaresekwa, where he played lots of football growing up, Chimbima is not totally divorced from his first love.
“I am also a Level Six football referee,” he says.
“With the kids now a bit independent, driving themselves to trainings, I have been on a regional football league referees panel so when I’m not watching the children play, I would be refereeing.”