By Anesu Chakanetsa
RONALDINHO did the elastic dribble with his legs, but Marvel Samaneka did it with the head; a skill that was just out of this world.
Cry our beloved past that has a deep void in keeping records that always continue to get Africa bullied by Europe, statistically.
Samaneka is perhaps one of the greatest dribblers and showboaters Zimbabwe has ever seen, with the peak of his career at CAPS United between 2006 and 2012.
Fans also pay for football entertainment, like skills display, showboating and nasty dribbling, not for violence.
Born in Harare in 1982, Samaneka ironically started his career at Glen View Eight Primary School, playing centre back.
“I played basic football then, because we played to instruction and there was no room for skills,” he said.
He was part of the 1990s Glen View creme de la creme but his route is different from others like Samson Choruwa, Norman Maroto, Fidelis Mangezi and Eddie Mashiri.
After enrolling at Glen View High Two, Samaneka did not take part in football because his parents wanted him to focus on education.
It was at Glen View High Two that players like Samson Choruwa were discovered by Churchill Boys High scouts, but ‘Marve’, as he was affectionately known, was busy with his books.
It was until the fourth form that he was discovered by a certain teacher playing football on school grounds, and the teacher asked him to come to training the following day.
“That was a good offer but, back home, my parents did not like it,” he said.
He played football anyway.
After completing Form Four, he was called to continue his football with Glen View High Two, but he had other local clubs like Batanai FC, sponsored by Batanai Supermarket once popular in the 1990s in Glen View.
Because football was not bringing anything tangible to the table, Samaneka dribbled cross border trading, fresh vegie market distribution in Mbare and football.
He was then playing for Eiffel Wildcats in Division One.
His age mates, like Choruwa and Maroto, were already making headlines with Dynamos but Samaneka’s story is different.
“I was once discovered by Freddy Mkwesha who invited me to CAPS United but after attending a single training session, I thought of going back to learn more,” he said.
His breakthrough would, however, come in 2005 when Gishon Ntini visited him at his home after he had dazzled in a friendly match between his Eiffel Wild Cats and CAPS United.
They won the game 2-1 at the National Sports Stadium (NSS).
“He came with a sign-on fee for the following season,” he said.
“It was a great moment and I coincided with Farai Jere taking over the club and everything from then started moving smoothly.”
From 2006 to 2012, Samaneka was at the height of his career with CAPS United but unfortunately, ‘The Cup Kings’ were not too strong to lift the Premier League Cup during his career.
But so great was his performance that he was sought after by big clubs like Dynamos and Motor Action.
Samaneka was well known for his crafty dribbling skills that most skillful ‘ghetto’ youth became nicknamed ‘Samaneka’.
He is also remembered for being the man of the match for almost all Harare derbies he played.
Ironically, he grew up a Dynamos fan.
In 2012, Dynamos beat CAPS United in a league encounter 3-0.
“This was my worst derby and it got me fired over the phone,” said Samaneka.
“We were accused of match fixing, something which I did not even know of.”
Samaneka decided to go farming in Beatrice but he was called for a free transfer at Motor Action.
While at Motor Action, he was discovered by Philani ‘Beefy’ Ncube who then coached How Mine, but did not even play a single league game.
“I didn’t even know my league jersey number,” he laughed.
After spending a season at How Mine, in 2014, Samaneka joined Golden Valley Division Two side and helped the team to Division One where he was a player coach.
According to Samaneka, the team, Golden Valley, had been in Division Two for ‘more than 100 years’ but he brags he and others took it to top flight football.
He then hung his boots and started working at Golden Valley Mine, up to now.
In all his career, Samaneka attributes his football talent to his roots, where he played football from primary school.
“Back in the day, football started from as low as Under-12, for example Glen View produced a lot of players who went on to flourish in top flight football,” he said.
“Zimbabwe football will improve only if responsible authorities get serious with junior football.
“And these juniors don’t play for nothing, they need funds for them to focus on football development.
“Junior policy is the primary structure of football that feeds into teams, but these days, even big teams do not have junior structures.”
For the past five-or-so years, teams like Dynamos and CAPS United have been relying on open trials for recruitment.
Of late, Black Rhinos is doing that for the upcoming 2023 season.
Only a few academies are producing big players hence there is poor competition.
The skillful Samaneka hopes for the return of organised football structures.
“Right now, it is safe to say that football is beginning at Division One, which is wrong,” he said.
Zimbabwe Football Association is pushing for a National Division One League for 2023 but sources in football circles think that this issue has been announced on a short notice.
Hopefully the ZIFA Restructuring Committee is working towards these structures to bring back more ‘skillful’ Samanekas.