Why Junior Makunike ditched Highlanders…Bosso wanted five-year contract for then 12-year-old

Sports Reporter

Returning to his native Mzilikazi suburb ahead of the Premiership club against Highlanders, Junior Makunike is eager to carry the weight for his new paymasters, Simba Bhora.

Match days are special for professional football players, but every day is just a little bit sweeter for Makunike. He grew up in Mzilikazi, Bulawayo and was a standout football player at Mpopoma High School before packing his bags to move to Prince Edward High School in Harare. From PE, he did not have to go far in search of a professional career, signing with Dynamos.

He was in town at least three times with DeMbare last season and even scored a fantastic volley in a 3-0 win over Chicken Inn. Life is a little different for Makunike now. Although he does not get to see his family as often as he would like to, he is often surprised by who else he gets to see.

“A lot of people have come back into my life, whether it’s through Facebook or seeing them in person. It means a lot to see people that I haven’t talked to in a while. I have been in Harare for a long time, so it means a lot to come back and see my hometown friends and see a familiar face once in a while. It’s awesome to represent your hometown,” he shared with B-Metro.

Makunike will need no introduction when his new club faces hometown team Highlanders this afternoon.  The ex-Dynamos midfielder comes up against the club that played a role in his development but never gave him a chance to feature for it in the Premier League.

Born in Bulawayo 20 years ago, his passion for football developed at a young age. And being a lad from one of the country’s most trusted sources of raw footie talent — Mzilikazi, a suburb just a short walk from the iconic Barbourfields Stadium, it just seems natural for him to perform whenever his corks touch the Emagumeni turf.

While his parents, mother Thandeka Moyo, and father, Jeffrey Makunike, himself a retired goalkeeper who played many a season in the then Zifa Southern Region Division One League, supported local rivals Highlanders and Dynamos, respectively, their love for the beautiful sport undoubtedly played a huge role in a journey that saw him arrive at Simba Bhora ahead of the season.

After showing his class early in his development, the 20-year-old midfielders’ talent was quickly acknowledged and he signed for Bantu Rovers’ juniors before joining the Highlanders juniors set up.

Bosso tried to get his family to agree to a five-year deal when he was in Grade Seven, aged 12, but the deal fell through after the length of the contract worried his parents. Highlanders are believed to have been bitter at this decision and effectively froze him out, refusing to acknowledge that he could be an asset. In retrospect, quite the loss for Amahlolanyama.

This afternoon Highlanders and Simba Bhora meet and Makunike faces the side that he came through the ranks with from the age of 12. The youngster eventually played for a small local club but made his mark when he impressed others while he was at Mpopoma High School to earn himself a move to Prince Edward in the capital where he honed his craft.

From then it was a gradual progression, from making a senior debut with Dynamos last season and even a national team call-up, going on to star for the Warriors at a recent four-team invitational tournament in Malawi where the versatile midfielder was one of the stand-out players.

The “B” Square lad appears well on his way to becoming a regular in the Zimbabwe senior side and featured heavily for Norman Mapeza in Malawi recently. He has had a smoking start to this season scoring both goals as his side won 2-1 away to Manica Diamonds on Match Day One. Still, Makunike will relish playing his former development side but retains his love for Bulawayo.

“As soon as the fixtures came out, I looked for the home and away games against Highlanders and other Bulawayo teams. I had a good start to the season scoring two goals in my first game for Simba Bhora which we won 2-1 but made sure this did not go to my head before we have not even reached the halfway stage of the season. Bulawayo holds a special place in my heart and for my growth as a footballer so I want to make sure I am in good form for these games,” he told B-Metro.

The midfielder — perfectly suited to his berth in the middle of the park — still calls Bulawayo his home and regularly visits and shares moments with many of his former teammates from his former youth teams, a great example of his humble character that has helped him on his way to the top.

Close neighbour and Dynamos fan, Lawrence “Bebe” Dube who runs a local barber shop where Makunike got his fair share of haircuts when he was growing up, is well aware of the upcoming fixture. And what Makunike can deliver.

“I’ve watched him through his career when he was playing football or at school with the junior teams. He is a good lad and you always knew when he was younger, you just knew that he was going to be a bit of a baller. He had the right stature, the right attitude and he was just some boy who loved to play football. You could always tell that he would make it. He just had the right attitude for everything,” explained Dube to B-Metro.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *