Paul Gundani was a footballer and sports administrator. At the time of his death on November 2015, Gundani was the secretary general of Football Union of Zimbabwe, an organisation that fought for the rights of professional football players in Zimbabwe. He was one of the most outstanding figures in Zimbabwean football both from his time as a player in the 80s and 90s, and also as an administrator in the 00s. In his playing career, Gundani played for Ziscosteel, Stockport Counter (a division 2 side in England) and Lancashire Steel. Gundani also played for the Zimbabwe National Soccer Team in the 90s.

Paul Gundani
Paul Gundani
Paul Gundani at the FifPro General Assembly in 2013 image credit: Fifpro
Born Paul Gundani
March 15, 1966
Torwood, Kwekwe
Died November 4, 2015 (aged 49)
Kwekwe
Cause of death Minor Illness
Residence Kwekwe
Nationality Zimbabwe
Education Human Resources
Occupation
  • Football Administrator
Years active 1984 - 1994 (football player)
1994 - 2009 (coach),
2010 - 2015 (Administrator).
Employer Football Union of Zimbabwe
Organization Football Union of Zimbabwe
Notable work Member of Dream Team
Home town Kwekwe
Spouse(s) Hazvinei Daphne Gundan
Children Shannon, Brandon, Gannon, Sharon, Cannon and Shane
Relatives Ephraim Dzimbiri (Brother in-law)

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Background

Gundani was born in 1966 in Torwood Kwekwe. Gundani was invited to join the Ziscosteel junior side by legendary coach Paul Moyo. He graduated into the Ziscosteel senior team in 1983 when he was still a student Drake High School.

Gundani says he was inspired by the late Ephraim Dzimbiri, his brother in law, who also played professional soccer around the same time.

Career

Paul Gundani played for Ziscosteel from 1983 to the early 90s. In 1984 he was selected in into the Zimbabwe National Team, Under 23 side.

Gundani left for England in the late 80s where he played for a division two side, Stockport County. He said later that he could have played at a higher level but that coming from a small club like Ziscosteel had affected his chances negatively. Gundani came back in 1994 and joined Lancashire Steel until retirement. He played around the same time that other legends like Moses Chunga and the late Adam Ndlovu were also in their heyday. [1]

Gundani played for the national team from 1988. He was part of the side known as the Dream Team, a national team coached by Reinhard Fabisch from 1992 - 1994.[2] The team famously almost qualified for the '94 world cup. He said in an interview about moments he remembers in soccer that time at the National team was special; "The game we won 4-1 against Cameroon at the National Sports Stadium playing for the national team remains special to me. I will not forget that game." [1]

After his career as a player, Gundani qualified as a coach and coached at Lancashire and other clubs in Zimbabwe and in Botswana. He then stopped as a coach after Desmond Maringwa' (the Football Union of Zimbabwe president) convinced him to join the union. He joined the union and worked there full time as Secretary General until he passed away in November 2015.

A nagging knee injury cut short his career at the age of 31.

Teams Played For

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Formation of the Football Union of Zimbabwe

Around 2009 Gundani spearheaded the formation of the Football Union of Zimbabwe with the encouragement of Desmond Maringwa. The union was instrumental in safeguarding the welfare interests of footballers in Zimbabwe.

Dissatisfaction with state of Football in Zimbabwe in 2015

Gundani expressed his dissatisfaction with the state of football in Zimbabwe in 2015 at the time that national football administration as headed by ZIFA was in the hands of controversial characters like Cuthbert Dube. Gundai in September 2015 wrote an open letter to his fellow former footballers and said the time had come for them to now rescue their game:

“Our game, which most of us started playing in our teens, is now in a comatose state. We were brought up all our lives in it and it is the only activity that we have been exposed to most of our lives. We have worked tirelessly as players to build the reputation Zimbabwean football had in the past. The reputation of the game is in tatters and no solution of reversing the rot is in sight.

Most of us former footballers toiled the better productive part of our lives, working hard as players, to improve the status of the game in Africa and beyond. Our efforts seem to have earned us nothing as we continue to watch the administration of the game on the sidelines.

Because of our wrong perception that we must be coaches at retirement, the administration of the game has over the years been left in the hands of those who are said to have funds, but greatly lack knowledge of it.

We have let down the development of the game by choosing to continue being workers instead of taking the over the management or administration of the game. There is no one else who can assist us to be part of the national association except ourselves..

We have a responsibility to improve the game for the benefit of future generations. We cannot allow failure to continue in the game we have worked in for the greater part of our lives. It is a shame that we continue to be used by those ignorant of the game, who sow discord amongst us, so that we remain divided.

Amongst us the former footballers, we have capable and reputable leaders who can bring out our game from the current state of affairs, to its respectable position in Africa. We do not need funding from an individual, but from Government and the corporate world.

The two institutions I have mentioned can only do so if our game is properly managed. Football if properly managed along business lines, generates the funding required through sponsorships. It is an industry capable to raise resources required to take care of its liabilities.

For once, let us pull in the same direction and work towards the development of our game. A game we have all dedicated our lives to work for. It is us the former footballers who can guarantee the future generations of a bright future by fighting to have the involvement of former players in mainstream football administration. We cannot all of us be involved, but let us fight for those with the necessary knowledge to be included. [2]

Death

On Gundani, who played for Ziscosteel and Lancashire died at a private clinic in his home town of Kwekwe around midday on 4 November 2015 after a short illness. He had been taken to Topomasi Private Hospital in the early morning of the same day on suspected illness of cerebral malaria after his condition had deteriorated. He had been sick for just 2 days.

Picture Gallery

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 Paul Gundani H-Metro, Published: 15 Aug 2013, Retrieved: 5 Nove 2015
  2. 2.0 2.1 M. Gwaunza ‘OUR GAME IS DOOMED’• Gundani laments state of Zim football• Calls on former players to rescue the game The Herald, Published: 30 September 2015, Retrieved: 5 November 2015