From farm worker to national team star within three years, the story of Tymon Machope reads like a fairy tale, a breath-taking marathon to stardom

He pauses, takes a deep breath and says: “If we are to ever talk about God’s power and influence resulting in the transformation of a human being’s life, mine is the perfect example.”

Two years ago, Machope was not even a professional footballer. He worked at Morrison Farm in Rusape, sweating it off in the tobacco fields.

Machope knew that he had both the talent and passion for football and even played the game throughout his childhood, but those around him, despite acknowledging that he was gifted, discouraged him because of his age.

At 28 years of age, Machope’s companions could not see the possibility of player development and subsequent transformation to a professional footballer.

Initially, he somewhat believed them but Machope did not stop playing football nonetheless, as he oozed the game and it ran through his veins.

Two years later, in a miraculous turn of fate, Machope will represent Zimbabwe at the pinnacle of football the FIFA World Cup qualifiers.

The Warriors resume their quest to book their first ever place at the global spectacle scheduled for 2026, when they take on Lesotho and South Africa in Group C, next week.

Machope is in the squad selected by interim coach Jairos Tapera and the bustling striker is still pinching himself to make sure it’s not just a dream.

When the official Warriors squad list was released by ZIFA, I was in the Central BusinessDistrict with my friends. I could not believe my eyes when I saw my name on it. I was so ecstatic,” recalls Machope.

“I was happy but I was still not convinced if it was true because there were a lot of fake lists of the Warriors squad circulating on social media, so I assumed it was probably one of them.

“When I then got a call from the ZIFA officials asking if I had a passport, that is when I realise it was actually true that I had been selected. My biggest dream has come true,” said an elated Machope. 

It was not an easy road though for the soft-spoken striker, he overcame a lot of obstacles to realise his dream —doubts, lack of opportunities, lack of financial support and having to live in marginalised parts of the country where football scouts rarely visit to search for talent.

“Growing up, life was that easy because my father was a soldier. Things then changed after his retirement when we moved to Mutorashanga,” he remembers.

At 18-years of age, most aspiring footballers would either be in academies or trying their luck at developmental sides for Premier League or Division One clubs, but in the case of Machope, he was going from farm to farm in Mutorashanga, to play the game just for fun.

“I would walk very long distances from farm to farm in the Mutorashanga area, just to play football. People in the area knew that I was good at football, so they would invite me participate in social tournaments held in the area,” recalls Machope.

The following year, when I was 19, I moved to Rusape because an opportunity to work on a farm arose. I worked at a tobacco farm called Morrison Farm in Rusape and played social football during my spare time.

Tymon Machope (holding the ball) when he was playing for a farm social team in Rusape in 2022.

The work at the farm consumed most of my time and it was a really tough job.  There was a day in particular when we pruned tobacco leaves the entire field, measuring nearly 50 hectares, yet it was just 30 of us.

That day was the turning point because thereafter, I quit the job and relocated to Harare to search for greener pastures,” Machope said.

Despite life not being rosy, the romance between Machope and football did not fade and he played football just for the fun of it, until one day, a phone call changed everything.

“My former boss at the farm called me and said if I wanted, I could return to the farm but unlike previously, I would work as a clerk,” recalls Machope.

“Initially, I was reluctant to go back to Rusape but since there wasn’t anything productive I was doing in Harare, I obliged and returned to the farm and started working as a clerk.

“Being a clerk was not as demanding as working in the fields so I had more time to play football. The social team I played for in Rusape was then invited to play against a Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) and Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA) select.

“We won that game and that is when I was spotted by a team called Midway. They were in Division 2 then. I joined them but as you know, Division 2 in Zimbabwe is still not professional football.

“We then got promoted into the Eastern Region Division One in 2023 and it was that year when everything changed as far as my football career,” recalls Machope.

While playing in the Eastern Region Division One and scoring for fun, Machope caught the eye of several Premier Soccer League (PSL) sides including Triangle and GreenFuel, but it was ambitious side Simba Bhora who proved to be more serious.

Tymon Machope (left) during the Midway days in Division One last year.

In Division One, I started to believe that it was possible to play in the Premiership. I was hoping that since I was being told every now and then that my age was now on the wrong side, I could help Midway get promoted rather than a PSL club sign me,” Machope said.

“But one day before the game against Hunters, I was told that there was a Simba Bhora officialwho had come to watch me play, but I didn’t take it that seriously. Nonetheless I played my normal game and by the 15th minute, I had scored two goals.

“I then realised that the Simba Bhora official present was their goalkeepers coach Zwanai Kawadza. One thing led to the other and I eventually signed for Simba Bhora on July 12 last year,” he added.

Machope settled well at Simba, and helped the Shamva-based side avoid relegation in their maiden campaign in the country’s top-flight, scoring seven  goals and providing four assists.

He attributes his success to Simba Bhora coach Tonderai Ndiraya.

Machope spoke glowingly of Ndiraya, describing him as his pillar of strength and the former Dynamos midfielder is humbled by that and glad the gamble paid off.

It takes a lot of effort, belief and courage as well for one to pluck someone from a farm, a 29-year-old for that matter and play him in the Premier Soccer League,” said Ndiraya.

“The first time I saw him, I had no doubt in my mind that he was destined for greatness. One week after I first watched him at training, I sat down with him and clearly told him that the amazing talent he had would take him, if turns out to be serious.

“What encouraged me the most is that he played about 12 games last season and scored seven goals. He even did that effortlessly and to do that without proper fitness, was quiet remarkable if you ask me,” added Ndiraya.

Though delighted, Ndiraya is not surprised that Machope has been selected to play for the national team.

Quick transformation: Tymon Machope arrives at the OR Tambo International Airport in South Africa clad in national team colours, yesterday.

“Tymon is one of the best players locally, those who watched him this season can’t attest. For me, he is the best centre-forward we have in the country at the moment,” reckons Ndiraya.

He (Machope) has huge talent and I’m not surprised that those who select the national team picked him,” Ndiraraya said, describing Machope’s inclusion in the Warriors fold as “historic.”

Machope’s manager Trust Nyambiya described Ndiraya as the most brave coach in the PSL, for taking a huge gamble on a talented but yet unheralded player.

“There is no coach in the PSL who is as brave as Tonderai Ndiraya,” declared Nyambiya.

“No one would take a gamble as the one he took, of signing a player who for years was playing in farm leagues and only played a few games in Division One.

“I knew Tymon is talented, but it took a lot of work and effort to expose his talent to the right people,” added Nyambiya.

Dreams come true, still.

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