Barbourfields Stadium will this Sunday host celebrations to mark the 90 years of existence of Highlanders Football Club - the oldest club in Zimbabwean soccer history.
According to Bosso Chief executive Officer Ndumiso Gumede, preparations are at an advanced stage with popular theatre group Amakhosi Theatre Productions at the hub of organizing the musical gala.
“We have decided that on the 28th of February, we will have a grand opening where we will have music and fanfare and football of course. We have twinned with Amakhosi Theatre Productions, who are going to be doing what they know best when it comes to entertaining people,” said Gumede.
A musical gala and a football festival will characterize the festivities.
Gumede added that the celebrations will not begin and end with Sunday’s musical and football festival but will run throughout the year adding that the club will also have a stand at the Zimbabwe
International Trade Fair to showcase what they have achieved in their 90 years.
“It’s not a one off thing. This is just the beginning. We are actually going to have celebrations right through the year. So much that we are going to have our presence for the first time at the trade fair. We hope that our stand is going to attract a lot of attention,” added Gumede.
In fact, the festivities began last week with a four team tournament dubbed the Bulawayo Football Challenge which on their part Highlanders won after overcoming Bulawayo City 1-0 in the final.
Gumede took his time to explain how Highlanders came about.
“From its humble beginning and formed by the great sons of Lobengula, Rhodes and Albert, it has come a long way. At that time it was known as Lions, then in the mid-30s, it changed its name to Matabeleland
Highlanders. In the mid-70s it changed to simply Highlanders,” said Gumede.
Highlanders have produced with no doubt the best player ever to come out of Zimbabwean football in the form of Peter Ndlovu who went on to play in the English Premiership with Coventry City.
They have also produced other great footballers such as the late Adam and his brother Madinda Ndlovu, the late Willard Khumalo, Mercedes Sibanda, and Benjamin Nkonjera, Zenzo Moyo, Dazzy Kapenya, among others.
Highlanders have along the way also won seven league titles and a host of other knockout tournaments.
Gumede himself is a former Zimbabwe Football Association vice chairman and Chief Executive Officer while another former Bosso chairman Kennedy Ndebele is the Chief Executive Officer of the Premier Soccer League.
Gumede said as far as he is concerned Highlanders is the most popular football club in the country and jokingly took his time to laugh off Dynamos’ claims to be the most followed team in the country.
“There is no clubs as big as ours. We know there is a team which calls itself 7 million, but we doubt that they are as big as ours. We are known as ithimu yezwelonke, meaning a team of the nation. It does not matter where you are, people are following Highlanders everywhere,” said Gumede.
Dynamos were formed 39 years after Highlanders had been introduced but the Harare club last year failed to celebrate their 50 years of existence despite promises of a grand show.