One of my long time favourite rock hits is Breaking my heart by Michael Learns to Rock. It is about a romantic relationship gone sour and part of the lyrics go: “There is no excuse my friend for breaking my heart. This is where our journey ends, for breaking my heart again.”
And the Flames have always had a special place in my heart. It has been a romantic filtration for years, but when push came to shove in Harare last week after that 3-0 humiliation at the hands of the Warriors of Zimbabwe—when their soul was torn apart by the crushing weight of failure—I felt enough was enough and like the lyrics in that hit song, I thought the Flames had broken my heart for far too long and it was time our journey ended.
On social media, the Flames became the subject of ridicule and one naughty fella posted what he imagined was coach Ernest Mtawali’s reaction after the loss and it read: “The death of Muhammad Ali affected our preparations.”
And last Friday, as I chilled out at Kaya Lounge watching the Euro 2016 opening ceremony, some young men who sat near me, joked that even if the Flames were in a group all by themselves, they still wouldn’t qualify. As if that was not enough, someone had the cheek to suggest that if England and Flames were to be in the same group of just two teams, none of them would qualify. Boy, oh boy.
But maybe, I can give the Flames the benefit of the doubt. Maybe they will give me and indeed other broken hearts reason to smile at the Cosafa Castle Cup in Namibia and maybe it is a chance to redefine themselves as true ambassadors.
And just food for thought, before we condemn the Flames, perhaps it is also important for us to appreciate that the team’s problems could be cross-cutting. This is a team that played against Azam Tigers in preparation for Zimbabwe, like serious? This is a team that has been allocated a meagre K32 million by government for its programmes for the whole year. It is such small matters that we should not ignore as a country and reflect on. Come on Flames. Uloliwe, uloliwe wayidudula neng’esiza hah! (Oh yes, the train is pushing) Glory be to God! . n