|The late Tanda 'Mhunga' Tavaruva|
Since 1980 when the Zimbabwe Premier Soccer League (PSL) was formed as the successor to the Rhodesia National Football League, no team from Masvingo had tasted PSL action until the year 2000 which saw a new trajectory on the Masvingo football landscape.
History was made with the emergence of the Masvingo United football club (FC) in 1997 and three years later got promoted into PSL for the first time at the end of the 1998/99 Division One season.
The club was bought as a franchise from Zimex, a then Cold Storage Commission (CSC) sponsored club in Masvingo and the name of the team was changed to Masvingo United.
Not only were they a new kid on the block, but they were also being funded by a proprietor who loved football to the core.
To some, he was a father, a benefactor while to many he was just an employer but to football players and fans in Masvingo Tanda “Mhunga” Tavaruva was an angel of football.
In football circles, it would not attract a backlash to call him the Joshua of Masvingo football as he guided Una Una into Canaan (their maiden PSL appearance).
Just as the biblical Canaan was described to be the best place on earth, Una Una enjoyed a purple patch in the topflight which they turned into their territory a few years after their arrival.
All things in their rightful place Mhunga as Tanda Tavaruva was affectionately known, wouldn't miss a Una Una home match, in fact, he was his team's number one supporter.
At the peak of their illustrious journey, his team bossed the local PSL, dethroned Kings, and defeated giants in their backyard.
Mucheke stadium during the Mhunga era was a deep end as The Busmen would play their hearts out just to sink the visitors, collect maximum points, and get their hefty allowances from Tanda Tavaruva.
The Busmen was amongst the most paying clubs in the country as they were bankrolled by arguably one of the richest man in the country back then.
Player welfare was his priority and that kept his project afloat as he managed to lure quality players until the time age got the better of him and he retired from active football in 2008.
TellZim News caught up with veteran football pundit, Charles Mabika who described the late Tavaruva as a visionary leader who loved his Una Una project with all his heart and always desired to win the league title.
“We have lost a great visionary, a passionate and true leader of football. He led Una Una with finesse and flair, pumping the proceeds from his bus and truck haulage businesses into the life system of Masvingo's football. All he loved to talk about was Masvingo United, nothing else.
“It’s a pity that Una Una never won the league title, the treasure that he desired most and could have lived his dream at the end of the 2005 season when sadly his side was piped by Caps United on the very last day of the season. We will miss him but his spirit will live on,” said Mabika.
Zimbabwe Football Association (Zifa) also wrote on their official Twitter handle where they said Tavaruva had a passion for football which the whole nation will forever miss.
“Our sincere condolences to the Tavaruva family and the national football family after the passing of Tanda Tavarura. His passion for the game will be sorely missed but his legacy lives on,” wrote Zifa.
Former Una Una Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Advocate Phillip Shumba who at once bankrolled the club after the late retired from active football described Mhunga as a selfless character who left a big void which proved difficult to fill in football circles.
“The great man tutored me all soccer administrative skills I now have. He was my mentor my teacher and above all a humble fatherly figure.
“When he retired from football I was honored in that he gave me the authority to take care of Masvingo United on his behalf. We have been left poorer with the sad loss,” said Shumba.
Efforts to make a quick PSL return after the iconic Mhunga retired were made and the team got promoted in 2010, played premier league football in 2011 before being relegated again the same year.
Currently, the team which Mhunga pioneered and made a brand is holed up in the Eastern Region D1 league struggling to make ends meet but they have the vision to return to topflight football and compete for the title which they lost out on the final matchday of 2005.
However, the big question still remains whether the Masvingo football landscape will be graced by another business person who has a passion for football just like the departed Mhunga.