DYNAMOS players are being ordered to strip naked, in their rooms on the eve of their Premiership matches outside the capital, where their bodies are sprayed with holy water, as part of a new religious ritual at the Harare giants.
The Herald can today exclusively reveal some of the intimate details of what goes on inside the Glamour Boys’ house since the arrival of coach Lloyd Mutasa, a devoted disciple of an Apostolic sect led by Madzibaba Daniel of Chitungwiza.
His arrival at DeMbare, at the beginning of the year, has resulted in changes with the club abandoning its traditional pre-match goalline prayer, which has since been adopted by African champions TP Mazembe of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The Glamour Boys now have a pre-match prayer, where they stand as a group, facing the east, and they repeat it at the end of the match.
Kiglon used to do the same, when Mutasa was their coach, and he took the same approach to Highway while newboys Blue Ribbon, who came into the top-flight this year, also pray in the same way.
But away from the eyes of their fans, the Dynamos camp has turned into a virtual cult where players are ordered to strip naked, and holy water is sprayed on their bodies, amid the sounds of loud prayers aimed at boosting the players’ performances.
A man, identified only as Madzibaba Dhisa, is tasked with the responsibility of spraying the holy water and praying for each and every player, while he is naked, in their hotel rooms on the eve of their matches outside the capital.
“It’s an order and every player in the team has to do it,” sources told The Herald this week.
“The players simply have to take off all their clothes and Madzibaba Dhisa comes into their room and, as he pours the water from a container, he will be praying and calling for divine help to boost the player’s performance.
“So, if it is the goalkeeper, the prayer will be based on asking for protection for his goal area and, if it is the strikers, the prayer will focus on help to enable them to score goals.
“Some of the players have found it hard to accept this new way of preparing for the matches but the bulk of the rebellion has been in hushed tones because there is a fear that it could cost them a place in the team.
“In the beginning, I think, it was tough on the players, going through all that in the presence of a stranger, but I guess they are getting used to it now.”
Dynamos have lost one and drawn two matches, on the road outside Harare this season, and are still to win away from the capital.
During their home matches, or those games played in Harare where they don’t go into camp, the DeMbare players travel to Chitungwiza, just a few hours before the game, where they receive blessings from Madzibaba Daniel.
This involves dipping the head of each player, and every member of the technical staff, three times in the waters of the river that flows on the edge of Manyame Park, a neighbourhood adjacent to the old St Mary’s township of Chitungwiza.
The DeMbare players usually gather in the capital at 9am before returning to Rufaro for their assignment.
Sources have told The Herald that a selected group of Dynamos players now go on to the field, on match day, holding some special blessed stones, which are thrown into the nets, as part of the religious ritual aimed at helping the team.
While only a select group of players carry the blessed stones, all the players in the starting XI need to insert blessed leaves, plucked from trees, in their stockings.
On Sunday, Dynamos players grouped in the capital at around 9am ahead of their Castle Lager Premiership tie against Shooting Stars at Rufaro. The squad was due to travel to Chitungwiza, for its routine religious session along the Manyame River, but complications arose when one of the key squad members refused to make the trip saying he was unhappy with the exercise.
Soon, some of the players joined in the rebellion and declined to travel to Chitungwiza leaving the coaching staff with a crisis should they decide to drop those who had decided to rebel against the team’s orders.
The trip was cancelled.
Dynamos edged Shooting Stars 1-0, in a nervy performance, where they needed a penalty to break a goal drought spread over three games in which they had picked up just two points out of nine.
Some of the DeMbare fans, sitting in the Vietnam Stand, turned against their players and technical team on Sunday as they prayed, facing that stand, at the end of the game.
Reports indicate that there were concerns within the Dynamos coaching staff that the club, which has so far struggled to stamp its authority in the race for the league championship, was not getting its share of divine blessings because some of members of the technical team were not fully committed to the spiritual path taken by Mutasa.
The capital was awash with speculation on Saturday night that goalkeepers’ coach Tichaona Diya had been asked to step down, for the time being, because of questions over his commitment to the religious path taken by Mutasa and his other assistants.
Ralph Kawondera and Masimba Dinyero, who are the other assistants, have turned into devoted followers of the Apostolic sect led by Madzibaba Daniel.
Madzibaba Daniel plunged into the limelight two years ago when it was revealed that Kiglon had placed their faith in him for them not only to survive in the Premiership, but also to become a success story.
Mutasa apparently started the relationship between Kiglon and Madzibaba Daniel when he was guiding the modest club, which he took into the Premiership, after a successful Division One campaign in 2007. Then, Mutasa used to take all his players to all-night prayer vigils.
As part of the partnership, the Kiglon players were supposed to behave in a prescribed manner, had to observe certain rituals before their games and, at times, needed to also take part in the all-night vigils.
Now the game has shifted to the Dynamos camp.
Interestingly, when news of their special relationship with Madzibaba Daniel surfaced in 2009, Kiglon had played nine games and won just three – the same number of matches that Dynamos had won at that stage of the season this year.
Eagles and Highway (coached by Mutasa), the two other teams that had links to Madzibaba Daniel that time, had also played nine games in 2009 and, ironically, they had each also won three games.
A History Of Faith
Glen Hoddle coached England at the 1998 World Cup finals in France and he had a faith healer, Eileen Drewery, as part of the English national football team’s coaching staff. The team lost in the second round after going down to Argentina on penalties.
The DRC national team, known then as Zaire, reportedly went to the 1974 World Cup finals with a team of nine witch-doctors and, in their game against Yugoslavia, they were humiliated 0-9.
Argentina’s World Cup winning coach Carlos Bilardo relied on a lucky tie he wore throughout the 1986 and 1990 tournaments and, having borrowed toothpaste from one of his players before Argentina’s first match at Mexico ’86, he insisted on continuing the routine all the way to the final.
Italy’s Giovanni Trapattoni was often seen sprinkling holy water from a bottle provided by his sister, who is a nun. This practice caused controversy in Trapattoni’s homeland.
Former French coach Raymond Domenech admitted that he considered the players’ star signs before selecting his team.
Laurent Blanc’s pre-match ritual was to kiss the bald head of goalkeeper Fabien Barthez prior to every match at Frace ’98, where Les Blues won the World Cup while in 1966 England’s Nobby Stiles insisted on rubbing olive oil on his chest, face and hands as he helped his country to World Cup success.
Argentine goalkeeper Sergio Goycochea’s routine when facing penalties, where he was a huge success act, involved a dirty practice where he urinated on the pitch.