HARARE – After being considered excess baggage by Harare City, defender Edgar Tapera will go into the 2017 season among those carrying the hopes of Ngezi Platinum Stars on his shoulders.
With less than two weeks before Ngezi Platinum, make their maiden participation in the African Confederation Cup, just a year after being promoted into the top flight league, Tapera knows he has a key part to play.
But three years ago, he faced an altogether different battle.
Gripped by depression while at Harare City after being told by the then head coach Bigboy Mawiwi that he was no longer good enough to fit into his plans, Tapera turned his back on the sport.
“The previous season we had just lost the championship on the last day of the campaign and I was surprised when Mawiwi told me my contract will not be renewed,” Tapera revealed to the Daily News on Sunday.
“I became frustrated and stressed at the same time. I decided to quit football and look for employment elsewhere while furthering my education. I’m a graduate with BSc Honours Degree in Psychology from University of Zimbabwe, so I thought of doing my Masters.”
It was understandable for the 28-year-old former Zengeza High School student to become psychologically weak.
Although he had had a short stint with Buymore during his school days, Harare City had become his home and he had served the club with distinction.
Tapera had helped the Sunshine Boys gain promotion into the Premiership in 2011 from Northern Region Division One League before finishing in position nine in their debut season in the top flight league in 2012, which saw him being named the club’s Player of the Year. Harare City is my boyhood club and I had become so loyal such that I was prepared to end my career there. The team had become my second family,” Tapera said.
“Although it was difficult, I made peace with the idea and moved on. My parents particularly my dad was someone who always pushed me to pursue an academic path. And he was quick to remind me the importance of education following that episode.”
It was not long though before Tapera was employed at one of the country’s leading banks.
But before he could start work formally, he received a call from Ngezi Platinum Stars, then still in Division One to come and join them.
The hard-tackling defender needed to make a quick decision and as someone who felt he still had a lot to offer to the game, he responded to Ngezi Platinum’s call.
And the determination, discipline and passion he showed from that episode is unbelievable.
“I have always wanted to be a footballer and when Ngezi called me it was not very difficult for me to choose which path to follow because coach (Wilson) Kadurira outlined to me the direction the team was taking,” Tapera revealed.
“So I resigned before I even started work. We eventually won promotion into the Premiership at the end of 2015 season.”
In their first year in the season, the Zimplats-owned side found the going tough and risked a quick return to Division One until they roped in Tonderai Ndiraya during the mid-season to be head coach while demoting Kadurira to the position of assistant coach.
Ndiraya had left Dynamos after the club hierarchy decided not to renew his contract by appointing Portuguese coach Paulo Jorge Silva.
The 39-year old had inherited a team that was low in confidence, struggling for results and expectations were high for him to turn around the fortunes of a team that had only managed just two wins, two draws and six defeats by the time he arrived.
Ndiraya went on to perform wonders steering the team out of the relegation zone while winning the Chibuku Super Cup in the club’s first year in the Premiership, something Tapera admits was beyond everyone’s expectations.
The arrival of Ndiraya did not only change results for Ngezi Platinum Stars but it also revived Tapera’s career developing a new wave of confidence to his game.
“Last year, was a stellar season for us as a club very few gave us a chance but we finished the season on seventh place while earning a ticket to represent the country in Africa,” Tapera said.
“For me specifically when coach Tonde came he appointed me the vice-captain. It’s something that I was not even expecting; I don’t even know what he saw me up to now. When he came I started to get more playing time and my game improved a lot.
“This pushed me to repay coach’s trust by performing according to expectations.”
Ngezi were drawn to face Pamplemousses Sporting Club of Mauritius in the preliminary round of the Confederation Cup and will be away for the first the leg next weekend before returning for the second leg at home a week later.
In the event that the platinum miners negotiate their way past Pamplemousses SC, they will meet Angolan side CD Libolo in the first round.
Tapera acknowledges they are in the tournament to learn but if opportunity arises they would welcome it with both hands.
“We are a small team and we are using the Confederation Cup as a learning curve but when the opportunity comes we will not let it slip,” Tapera said.
“African football is difficult. To play in Africa it means teams have done something and that alone it brings a lot of competition to the tournament. So we are expecting a lot of competition from the team that we have been drawn against.
Ngezi are currently in Zambia intensifying their preparations ahead of the game against Pamplemousses SC.
However, Tapera did not make the trip as he is struggling with a hamstring injury but is confident to return to full fitness in time for their first match.