“I was a victim of teargas ….”

Noku in an Orlando Pirates Jersey, like most Highlanders supporters do, also owning and wearing her Orlando Pirates FC jersey.

Umar Mathir: Hi Nokuthaba, please introduce yourself to the readers of ThisIsFootball.Africa.

Nokuthaba Nkala: My name is Nokuthula Nkala from Gwanda, in the province of Matabeleland South, Zimbabwe, I’m now based in Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates (U.A.E). 

UM: Are you by any chance related to Nkue Nkala, who was at some point involved in the Chicken Inn FC media team?

NN: Nkue is my brother by surname, he is also my frenemy due to English teams we are supporting.

UM: Talking about Chicken Inn FC, would you agree, that whoever they play, even if none of the players do anything wrong, there’s always “FOWL” play in such matches?

NN: (Sarcasticly) That is a very difficult question, I have to pretend as if I know nothing.

UM: Highlanders FC are definitely a big team, the question is, just how big are “Bosso,” and are they only big in Bulawayo, perhaps only in Matabeleland only, or are they a massive team throughout Zimbabwe?

NN: Highlanders is not just a team, it’s our pride, our heritage, so yeah it’s a very big team, which has supporters all over the country, although, I disagree to the team being called ‘Team yezwe lonke’ (‘World Team’), we are a brand.

UM: You are a Highlanders FC supporter, based in the UAE, what is this like, how is the reaction of people there, when they they see you wearing your African team’s jersey?

Nokuthaba in a Highlanders FC Jersey, ahead of the recent clash with Dynamos FC.
Nokuthaba in a Highlanders FC Jersey, ahead of the recent clash with Dynamos FC.

NN: I wear my jersey with pride, as it resembles who I am, some don’t understand it, but, let them drink Gaviscon (A type of medicine used to treat ‘heartburn’ and indigestion) if they’re having heartburn, so it’s in me, everywhere I go.

UM: Do you get people asking you to organise, or help with organising them Highlanders FC jerseys or kit?

NN: In the UAE, I’ve helped many, and I’m still helping many more people, through the aid of the SA Chapter (Highlanders FC supporters branch, based in South Africa) , In fact, I have brought “Bosso” to the UAE.

UM: You’ve lived in South Africa for a few years, why in your opinion, don’t teams like Pirates, Chiefs and Sundowns, attract crowds, the way they used to in the past, irrespective of the opposition they’ve faced back then?

NN: I really think they do attract crowds, as in most cases the tickets are sold out so easily, those who don’t attend anymore, most probably have fear since the Ellis Park stadium stampede, while other’s may have been victims of crime.

UM: How safe is it to attend football matches in Zimbabwe, and what do you think should improve?

NN: The matches that used to be unsafe, used to be the ones involving Highlanders and Dynamos, but nowadays, fixtures between those two teams are not a problem, away matches involving FC Platinum and Highlanders FC, are the problem, it’s a “No go match” as it’s not safe to be inside the Mandava stadium. I was a victim of teargas on the 23rd of April (2022), and it took me many months to heal, so it’s a no from me.

I had no voice since the 23rd of April, right up until the 3rd of May. I arrived in the UAE in a very bad state, and was taken to a hospital immediately. I was put on antibiotics, which didn’t work, and was referred to a specialist.

After doing X-rays, smoke was detected in my lungs, we tried treatments, but it was stubborn, I was then referred to a pulmonologist who struggled initially, but managed to help my condition to improve, eventually.

Imagine, I’ve had this problem between April and October (2022) .

UM: What is your opinion on Video Assistant Referee (VAR), is it good for the game?

NN: It is good, although sometimes some of the VAR decisions taken, are unfair.

UM: Do you think the CAF Super League, said to be kicking off next year (2023), will be good or bad for football? Your take on the matter?

NN: I don’t like it at all, due to the selection (proposed criteria to select participating clubs) teams, I don’t even know which strategy was used to make choices, so it’s a no for me.

UM: Some people have told me that you are the current Highlanders FC coaches wife, but they’re always spluttering, cackling, giggling or laughing when they do…. Please set the record straight for those of us who are clueless, are you really “Mrs Brito?”

NN: This needs a long WhatsApp voice recording, but I’ll try to answer (Laughing). Yes I am the coaches wife, “Mrs Brito,” for the love of the coach and the team, and he deserves a wife who is me, mind you, I haven’t met the current coach, I’m not in any kind of contact with him, but I am “Mrs Brito.”

Noku in an Orlando Pirates Jersey, like most Highlanders supporters do, also owning and wearing her Orlando Pirates FC jersey.
Noku in an Orlando Pirates Jersey, like most Highlanders supporters she also owns and wears her Orlando Pirates FC jersey.

UM: What if I told you that some people, I won’t say who, for the sake of their own well-being and safety, are even accusing you of being “Mrs Torres,” speak to us now, or forever hold your peace…

NN: I’ll never take those accusations seriously, as I know they’re jokes, I will never be Mrs Brito and Mrs Torres at the same time, that will never happen. Actually, the story of Mrs Brito started in our life members group, when we jokingly said Mrs Torres is Fiona, my travel buddy who is the Vice Chairperson of the “SA Chapter”, yours truly, Mrs Brito.

UM: Have you attended any local league matches or any kind of football match in the UAE?

NN: Not yet, because they play at night, and the closest stadium to me is a bit too far from where I live.

UM: Any idea how much the tickets cost for league games in the UAE , and if it’s safe for supporters to attend live matches in that part of the world?

NN: A friend told me that all the matches are free, and she had been there, also saying that the atmosphere is very different to what we’re used to back home.

UM: Nokuthaba, what is your relationship with the SA CHAPTER branch or section of Highlanders FC supporters, and can you please give us insight as to what they do, apart from mobilising supporters of “Bosso” from within South Africa’s boarders?

NN: Oh wow, we are more than a family, respect and value each other, our duty is to help our club, whenever they start “ringing,” we don’t hesitate in “bringing.” We have recruited so many people, and we’re growing so well.

UM: “Nokue,” thank you so much for taking the time out, and sharing your experience and opinions with us…

NN: Thank you very much, and I have to thank team ThisIsFootball.Africa, for making it possible for supporters like us, to finally have a real voice via this platform, thank you all so much.

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The Prince Of Highlanders FC

Highlanders FC supporters Harare Chapter mobilising ahead of their clash with Dynamos FC.
Highlanders FC supporters Harare Chapter mobilising ahead of their clash with Dynamos FC.