He is probably one of the most humble golf officials in the country, yet he is an ever-present feature at every golf gathering.
By Munyaradzi Madzokere
His dedication to the sport is obvious and behind that heavily built figure is a man who has travelled a long road.
A qualified football coach, Boniface Chigorimbo, the Zimbabwe Golf Association (ZGA) development officer, played a lot a football growing up, eventually ending up as a coach that groomed some players who blossomed into top players in Zimbabwe.
He was like a father to the late Blessing Makunike and brought him along with Lovemore Mapuya from Chipinge as young boys to the bright city lights of Harare where they joined CAPS United and Dynamos respectively.
As a Dairibord employee back then, he coached Dairibord teams and in the early 90s had an opportunity to impart his football acumen in Gweru on Bheki Mlotshwa and Maxwell Dube who later became football greats on the local scene.
Getting an opportunity to coach UZ Stars in the late 90s, a stint during which he was responsible for bringing Benjani Mwaruwari, Herbert Dick and Felix Banda from Lulu Rovers into his team, he was unfortunate to miss promotion to premier league having led the respective Division One league for the better part of the season.
It was almost a given that he was destined for greater achievements in football in his later years, but fate had other ideas.
Standardsport caught up with the soft-spoken golf administrator at Sherwood Golf Club, where he is also a golf coach. He reminisced on the road he has travelled as well as his vision for golf.
“Personally, I have a passion to see Zimbabwe golf produce young golfers who would go on to become world champions. I have learnt from my experiences in football and my past that I am a life coach for young people, an instigator that must bring the best out of young people so that they do what they must do in life,” he said.
“Zimbabwe is a country endowed with all the basics required to succeed in golf; the weather, the golf courses and the people, so I feel that although we don’t have a very large population like South Africa, we can still create champions that will beat the world,” Chigorimbo added.
Chigorimbo, who is a food scientist by profession, expressed satisfaction at the contribution he has made so far in ensuring that Zimbabwe continues to churn out great golfers who can go on to dominate the international stage.
His recent success story involves a young man by the name Doctor Maphosa who came from Zvishavane earlier this year, virtually an unknown, but after sitting under Chigorimbo’s wing is currently fourth on the ZGA Order of Merit and a member of the national amateur team.
Despite the influence he has in golf, the 62-year-old former ZGA vice-president’s entrance into the golf fraternity was not by design.
“It was in 1995 when I transferred from Chipinge Dairibord to Kadoma Dairibord where I was manager, but that position in Kadoma had the priviledge of a paid up golf membership subscription at the Kadoma Golf Club.
“Before that my only contact with golf was when I had caddied at Warren Hills to raise my school fees as a teenager and initially used golf as a platform to think out my football tactics for the coming matches, which always worked,” he explained.
A year later when he moved to Bulawayo he began taking the sport a little bit more seriously but greater strides were made when he moved to Harare in 1997 and became a member at Wingate Golf Club.
The move to Harare coincided with an opportunity to coach on a caretaker basis UZ Stars, who were sponsored by Dairibord that time and had been challenged to qualify for the top league within three years.
Having frustratingly failed to qualify his team for the top league, he ended his coaching career to concentrate on golf where his profile kept on increasing as a player and administrator in the Harare Province Golf Union (HPGU).
Before long, he was moving around the country for tournaments, with his knowledge of the players earning him the right to manage local amateur Order of Merit while he rose to become the HPGU president.
When the Zone 6 games came to Zimbabwe in the early 2000s, he was appointed the ZGA team manager and has been responsible for the welfare of national teams since them.
There are changes in golf that Chigorimbo looks back and feels proud to have been part of.
“I am part of the team that has demystified golf in Zimbabwe. If you notice, our golf is now in the utmost parts of the country and a lot of schools have taken up golf, as well as a lot of tertiary institutions that have followed suit,” he said.
“Before, golf was for the major towns like Harare, Bulawayo, Mutare and Bulawayo. But when you look at our national teams, for the past five years, there has always been somebody from the remote parts of the country,” added the former Mufakose High school student.
He went on to pinpoint John Sigaba from Rusape, Biggie Chibvuri from Nyanga, Visitor Makwanya from Renco Mine, as well as Tembalani Mvundhla from Victoria as some of the players from rural areas that made the national team.
Chigorimbo said he is also pleased with his contribution in pushing for the increase in the number of tournaments played through the years, as well as the increase in the number of Zimbabwean players who are now on the International Order of Merit ranking.
Coming from a family where most of his siblings are pastors in different churches, Chigorimbo is a member of the Apostolic Faith Mission (AFM) church and believes he has found his calling in golf, regarding himself also a pastor in his own domain.
Currently Chigorimbo is looking to revive the state of Sherwood Golf Club to its former glory when it was one of the top golf courses in the capital. Additionally, plans are already at an advanced stage to start a sports academy at Sherwood that would have a bias towards golf while encompassing other sporting disciplines.
Born in Mbare back in 1953, he has 12 siblings including renowned filmwriter and actor Stephen Chigorimbo.
A scientist who studied in Ireland as well as in England where he learnt most of his football coaching tactics, he is a man on a mission to leave his mark on the Zimbabwe golf landscape.