By Sheldon Hakata
HE is a relatively new figure in football, but in the few months that he has been involved in the sport, Sugar Chagonda has certainly made his mark.
Chagonda is currently the corporate communications affairs manager of the Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company (ZCDC) and former secretary-general of Manica Diamond football club.
Born on April 10 1977, Chagonda grew up in the sprawling suburb of Highfield. The Zimbabwe Football Association Board member is determined to see the football motherboard becoming an institution whose hallmark is excellency.
Chagonda excelled in all the sporting disciplines he was introduced to while at Chipembere Primary School before going to Gutu High for his secondary education and later Mutendi High School in Masvingo Province for his ‘A’ Levels.
The gentleman who believes local football must be given attention and run as a business entity was a formidable midfielder for Eastern Region Division 2 outfit Nyika United between 1994 and 1995.
With his father’s advice not to abandon education for his dribbling skills, he focused on his academics and business career.
Chagonda then made a name as a newscaster at ZBC TV and later in the public relations domain.
He believes that the communication skills he acquired during his years in the media fraternity gave him depth and confidence that has helped him navigate in various arenas.
The gifted public relations and marketing practitioner, after working for the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority, joined ZCDC on January 1 2018 where his duties include helping the company’s football club, Manica Diamond, cut its teeth in the premier league.
Speaking to The Patriot Sports, Chagonda said he was inspired by pursuit of the national vision as espoused by the country’s leadership.
“I consider the change as a redeployment because we are still pursuing the same national vision set by Government,” said Chagonda.
Chagonda, who holds a Masters Degree in Public Policy and Governance, is credited with helping Manica Diamond gain promotion into the PSL.
With modern football thriving on media rights, corporate sponsorship as well as endorsements and security, Chagonda, who holds numerous local and international diplomas in the fields of communication, journalism, public relations and diplomacy, believes he can help ZIFA become a brand to reckon with.
“You can’t separate football from the corporate world; you need to marry the two,” he says with a chuckle.
“Our football needs a strong brand that’s able to attract sponsorship and corporate support.”
His quest for the game has no limit.
Premiership debutants Manica Diamonds gained promotion from ZIFA Eastern Region Division One where they completed the season without tasting defeat, with Chagonda as the club secretary-general.
“Manica Diamonds played Division One football for one year, then got promoted, which is no mean achievement,” he said
Teams from Manicaland have traditionally failed to make an impact in the topflight league, with the exception of Tanganda FC.
Buffaloes, Dongo Saw Mills and Mutare City have all failed to stay afloat.
According to Chagonda, Manica Diamonds hopes to, at least, retain their premiership status in their maiden season and keep topflight football in Manicaland.
Chagonda said he contested for the ZIFA post after being approached by Eastern Region councillors.
“I felt that I can contribute by way of investing my time and administrative skills, contributing at national level, something which is good for the nation,” he said.
“The main issue is to make sure we engage all key stakeholders in football so that we come up with a strategic plan that will help steer local football to greater heights.”
On a parting note, Chagonda said:
‘‘Growing up as a youngster playing football in the dusty streets of Highfield, my dream was to one day play at the World Cup. Of course I didn’t make it, but decades later that dream has never changed. I wish to achieve it as a football administrator.”
Meanwhile, the 2019 Castle Lager Premier Soccer League started on a high note with traditional giants firing warning shots on their quest to claim the coveted tittle.
Strikers have also not disappointed, with four players grabbing braces during the first round of matches last week.
A total of 22 goals were scored last week, marking an improvement from last year’s 17.
Dynamos’ new broom Ngandu Mangala displayed exceptional initiative to score a brace against an unfortunate Mushowani Stars.
Chicken Inn’s Clive Agusto found the back of the net twice in their 3-1 win against ZPC Kariba.
The biggest winners, Chapungu, who put five past Bulawayo Chiefs, had Brighton Mugoni and Ian Nyoni scoring a brace each.
The start of the premiership season saw lots of positive flashes for Manica Diamonds, although they suffered a morale sapping 2-0 defeat in their first league assignment against a fired up CAPS United at the National Sports Stadium on Sunday.
The Gem Boys, who invested heavily in preparing for their debut premiership appearance, flattered to deceive in this encounter.
The second-half performance was so encouraging for the Manicaland Province representatives.
There is a strong need for concentration to win in their next assignments to achieve their objective of a top eight finish, come end of season.
Match Day Two fixtures
Ngezi Platinum vs Mushowani (Baobab)
Bulawayo Chiefs vs Tel One (Luveve)
ZPC Kariba vs Herentals (Nyamhunga)
Yadah vs Chicken Inn (Rufaro)
FC Platinum vs Triangle (Mandava)
Highlanders vs CAPS United (Barbourfields)
Manica Diamonds vs Harare City (Gibbo)
Dynamos vs Hwange (Rufaro)
Chapungu vs Black Rhinos (Mandava)
All games kick off at 15hr unless stated.