ELEVEN years ago, Northern Region Division One football side Simba FC thought they had wrapped up qualification into the top-flight league.
They were perched at the top of the standings after a dramatic final day of the season in which they, needing six goals to finish at the apex, scored six.
Their mining town, Shamva, and the surrounding communities held wild parties celebrating the coming of Premiership football at Wadzanai Stadium.
But second-placed side, Douglas Warriors, raised a complaint, questioning the manner in which Simba FC had won their last match.
The matter spilled into the football discipline committees and Douglas Warriors won the case and got promoted into the league in 2010 instead of Simba FC.
The shareholders of the club were distraught and felt shortchanged by the outcome.
For a team which they had poured so much resources to be elbowed out of top spot via administrative corridors was too much for them.
They decided to chicken out and for close to a decade, Simba FC was non-existent.
But Simba Ndoro decided to resuscitate the project with the team starting in Division Two last season.
The businessman also decided to rename the club to Simba Bhora, “to divorce the team from the 2009 curse”.
They were promoted the same year into the First Division and actually stood toe-to-toe with top tier giants like CAPS United, Highlanders and Dynamos in the market ahead of the 2020 football season that was scheduled to run from April.
The club approximately threw in excess of US$20 000 in signing players, who include David Redhiyoni, Brighton Tuwaya and Brian Muzondiwa.
They were the odds-on favourites to win promotion into the Premiership in 2020.
But, as if to remind them of their 2009 debacle, the season failed to take off, thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“As Simba Bhora, we are very disappointed that the 2020 season was washed away by the Covid-19 pandemic. We know it was our year and by now, we would have been celebrating promotion into the top-flight,” said team vice chairman Charles Nyatsine.
But, this time around the club has no intention to throw in the towel because of adversity.
They have instead decided to be exemplary.
An even-lush-green pitch greets one on entering the once dusty Wadzanai Stadium.
Modern changing rooms as well as sitting bays on one side of the facility are being worked on.
“It’s our responsibility to make sure that the people of Shamva have a modern stadium and we are also doing that with Club Licensing in our minds since we are confident that we will soon be playing in the Premiership,” Nyatsine said.
And on Friday, the team became the first lower league side to seal a kit sponsorship deal when they signed a three-year deal with OBT Looks.
They are the third team in the country after Premiership giants Dynamos and CAPS United to sign a kit deal with the UK-headquartered entity.
Northern Region Soccer League secretary-general Sweeney Mushonga, who was the guest of honour at the signing ceremony, hailed the move by the league’s newcomers.
“This agreement (kit sponsorship) is a significant milestone for Simba Bhora, in particular, and the Northern Region Soccer League family, in general,” said Mushonga.
“This signing ceremony is a first between OTB Looks and a team in Division One.
“This is a confirmation that our teams are not far off the ladder (since OTB Looks has in the recent past been in the news for signing similar kit deals with giants Dynamos and Highlanders).
“I would like to urge the generality of our clubs to invest in sound club administrative policies just like Simba Bhora and this will surely pay off not in the long distance future.
To OTB Looks, I would like to assure you that your investment is in safe hands as Simba Bhora has demonstrated sound club management practices over the years.”