What a rare opportunity this is for Zimbabwean domestic football, probably comparable in magnitude to SuperSport announcing its arrival to broadcast the local Premier Soccer League (PSL) few seasons ago.

The huge public interest we’ve witnessed in this part of the world in the wake of Khama Billiat’s shock return home – 14 years after he uprooted himself from the comfort of motherland as a completely unknown teenager – tells the full story about what the Zimbabwean league is gaining.

Understandably the South African press has particularly feasted on the unfolding story of Billiat, because this is the country that fine-tuned his natural talents into perfection.

And how gratifying it is – taking everything into account – to note that the dramatic turn of events in

Billiat’s career and the debate it has stirred up is nothing but recognition of this little wizard’s superstar status in both countries.

This has been the story of the week, it could well be the story of the season. Much more will be said and written about Khama Billiat’s homecoming after wowing the South African Premiership for more than a decade.

There will be scrutiny, some of if undue, but such is the life of a famous sportsman, and Billiat must take it in his stride.

Most will continue to hammer on Billiat’s unceremonious Kaizer Chiefs exit, how a huge opportunity was missed, and how his management team has supposedly led him astray.

Again, all this becomes part and parcel of the life of a prominent athlete and there is absolutely no excuse, as a seasoned professional, to let it get you down.

But there is one subject that make me slightly uncomfortable in most of the discussions surrounding Billiat’s return home: money.

We all tend to agree, on the whole, that mistakes were probably made, that Khama’s relationship with Kaizer Chiefs ought not to have ended in the manner it did.

But putting everything down to money kind of suggests that this is the end Khama Billiat as a  footballer, and the end of the value he brings to brands.

It suggests that the Zimbabwean league doesn’t have the power to utilise a commercial asset of

Billiat’s profile and for that I put the blame squarely on ourselves because that is the image we have created and put out there as a nation.

A challenge has been thrown at Zimbabwe to turn things around, in terms of how to use special talents like Billiat to negotiate with corporates as equals – confident about the worth of what you possess – instead of continuing to go around with a begging bowl for handouts disguised as sponsorship.

Khama is soon 34. He might not last long, whether he stays on Zimbabwe beyond this season or moves again. Yes it is Yadah FC that has paid the top dollar for Billiat’s signature, but other clubs need to leverage on the presence of this extraordinary talent in this league.

The former Mamelodi Sundowns and Kaizer Chiefs ace is now the highest paid player in Zimbabwe, with nobody coming close to him throughout the PSL. I dare you all marketing gurus in this country to use this disparity to balance that wage bill, and at least bridge the gap.

The facilities here are inferior, the professionalism and technical expertise are not as well-resourced as what Khama was used to for the past 14 years in South Africa. It’s a world of a difference.

So Khama might feel he has retrogressed by coming back to where it all started, but it should help change attitudes towards other players in the Zim PSL.

Source: Enock Muchinjo/ The NewsHawks


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