By Darious Kapembwa
ZIFA Nkhoma had an illustrious football career at three most glamorous players at the time including a stint with the Chipolopolo under Roald Poulsen in 1994.
But now, the 55-year-old former left back for Nkana, Nchanga Rangers and Power Dynamos is now a pale shadow of himself, poverty stricken and shunned by some of his friends because he lost his sight, blind.
Nkhoma’s story is truly heart wrenching since poor eye sight forced him to end his career prematurely in 2001 to completely going blind in 2018.
“Each time I played under flood lights at Power, my eyes started itching and afterwards I could feel pain but I took it lightly thinking it is just one of those things that will go away,”
When symptoms persisted, he sought medication attention at the Kitwe Teaching Hospital.
“…then this time we noted something that looked like a blood clot just below the pupil of my left eye which soon grew and covered the surface of the pupil and it was all but over when it was discovered at the hospital that the same object was covering both eyes and the doctor said I had gone to the hospital very late and that the problem could have been rectified if I had sought treatment abroad early enough, so I continued struggling until in 2018 when I just woke up without sight, I had become completely blind,” he explains.
Just like that, life took a turn for the worst; it became laborious and miserable for Nkhoma who now lives in a cabin inside his sister’s yard in the vast Chamboli compound in Kitwe.
“At first I did not accept it; I was badly stressed and felt ashamed I used to hide from people, I stigmatized myself. Whenever I heard people passing, I would lock myself inside the house until one concerned woman from the United Church of Zambia came and started encouraging me and that’s how I slowly started accepting the reality.” He narrated when we sat down for an interview.
Amidst his struggles, another disaster struck, he lost wife and had hope that his only son would make it at Power Dynamos but coaches at Young Power Dynamos FC dropped him because he did not meet the attributes they were looking for in a player forcing to join Mufulira Wanderers where he is currently plying his trade.
“That’s my only prayer and hope that he makes to keep my name in football and God willing, can look after me. I am glad that when abaice ama coaches ku Young Power rejected him, he couldn’t give up he joined young Maite,” he said.
But in his own words, he hurts so much because some of the friends he played with who are now coaches, shun him even when he only wants to find out results of weekend games because they think he is aking for alms.
He singles out Zesco United coach George Lwandamina, Mutondo Stars coach Zeddy Saileti, Happy Sichikolo of Kabwe Warriors and Bilton Musonda of Lumwana Radiants as those colleagues who would check on him and gives him financial assistance in some instances.
As a football person, he fails to stay at weekends, he walks aided by a young boy to Nkana stadium or Arthur Davies stadium whenever they are hosting matches and reserves special praise for Nkana and Power Dynamos supporters and fans.
“I have no problems with supporters, they are special, when they see me, they’ll give you a K50 or K100 atleast just something to buy kapenta natu saladi walyakofye ifyalondoloka. Ama fans bena I give them credit tabandabako.
But Nkhoma is suffering, he can only manage one meal per day and lacks basic human needs.
Being challenged as he is Nkhoma can be helped by either Nkana, Power Dynamos or Nchanga Rangers coming together raise funds for a kantemba that his sister can run on his behalf or put him on K500 monthly allowance because all he needs is soap, mealie-meal, cooking oil and relish.
If clubs can’t help him sports minister Elvis Nkandu should take interest to help him via the government.