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Up close with Blessing Gumiso

05 Feb 2017 at 07:50hrs | Views
Blessing Gumiso (right) with former Highlanders teammate Eddie Dube during his playing days
FOR someone who experienced a severe culture shock when he joined Highlanders back in 1998, Blessing Gumiso has fallen so much in love with Bulawayo that he decided to return and settle in the city after hanging his boots.

The Mutare-born and bred midfielder could not understand a word of isiNdebele when he relocated to Bulawayo in 1998 and recalls how he would just grin and smile back when addressed.

"Yooo baba, joining Bosso was such a huge culture shock for me. I could not understand a word of isiNdebele and I remember my first game at Barbourfields when each time I went to take a throw-in or corner kick, the supporters would rush to the fence and shout wena ndoda ungubani [who are you?]. I would just smile back in response since I could not comprehend what they were saying," Gumiso said.

The former defensive midfielder, who turns 40 years later this year, went on to establish himself as a vital cog in the trailblazing Highlanders squad that went on to lift four consecutive championships at the turn of the century.

He credits Gift Lunga Junior as one of the people who helped him adjust quickly.

"Prior to joining Highlanders, I had only played for relatively smaller teams and it was a very big switch for me, but Gift Lunga, who became a close friend till today helped me to adapt quickly," Gumiso said.

A product of Vellos Juniors in his hometown of Mutare where he was groomed by the late former Young Warriors captain Ian Matondo, Gumiso also turned out for second division outfit Border Timbers before joining the now defunct Tanganda, who were campaigning in the country's top flight league in 1994.

He spent a couple of seasons with the Tanganda reserve side and when the team sold its franchise to Gweru United 1997, after initially changing its name to Mutare United, Gumiso was one of the players who went along with the franchise to the Midlands.

"When Tanganda Tea Company withdrew its sponsorship, most senior guys left and the team was renamed Mutare United. But after a few games, it was sold and relocated its base to Gweru. After the movement of the senior players I got some game time for Gweru United in 1996 but when the team got relegated I went back to Mutare before joining Highlanders in 1998," Gumiso said.

He went on to win a total of 21 medals with Highlanders, including the four championship medals won under the tutelage of Rahman Gumbo (98/99 and 2000) and Eddie May (2001 and 2002), before packing his bags in 2003 to join Sporting Lions.

"I got a good offer from Sporting Lions and it came after the frustration of our having failed to progress to the mini league stage of the African Champions League," he said.

After spending just one season with the Thomas Mapfumo-owned Sporting Lions, Gumiso joined Masvingo United in 2004 before moving yet again after just one season to join AmaZulu in 2005.

He spent six months with Usuthu and then finished the year in the books of Kadoma Wildcats.

In 2006 Gumiso joined Mwana Africa where he spent two seasons before hanging his boots at the end of the 2008 season.

After calling time on his career, Gumiso did some coaching courses in South Africa and also went into business.

He is currently with First Mobile Soccer Academy in Bulawayo where he works alongside his former Bosso teammates Thabani Masawi and Dazzy Kapenya.

Gumiso is married to Patience and the couple has two children, Nina and Owami.

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