Sep 21, 2021

Edelbert Dinha’s Brush With Racism

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Dinha could not even warm-up and had to walk back to the dressing room where he wept uncontrollably.

FILE PHOTO: Edelbert Dinha. PICTURE: Lefty Shivambu / Gallo Images

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JOHANNESBURG: Like any other African boy gifted with soccer skills, Dinha had always dreamt of playing in Europe.

Former Orlando Pirates midfielder Edelbert Dinha recalls how he got a rude awakening after arriving in Poland in 1995 as a young fledgling footballer.

Like any other African boy gifted with soccer skills, Dinha had always dreamt of playing in Europe. Here was a chance to take his game to the bright lights of Tychy, a city in Silesia in southern Poland.

But little did he know that there was an unpleasant welcome awaiting him at Sokol Pniewy FC.

“When I was in Poland we went to another city to play a match, when the bus was entering the stadium fans started throwing stones at my window,” the former Zimbabwe international says.

Initially, he thought the opposition fans hated his team. “I started crying when I discovered that they were throwing stones at me because I was black,” he says.

Heartbroken, Dinha could not even warm-up and had to walk back to the dressing room where he wept uncontrollably.

“The coach came up to me and told me I would not play that game. At the end of the game, they had to sneak me into the bus and I was told to lie on the seat so that fans would not see me.”

And then there was an incident where a young boy walked up to him and asked to see his hand.

“The kid held my hand as if he was holding a dirty thing. He looked at both sides of my hand and said ‘you didn’t bath’ I said ‘why?’ and he said because your hand is dirty on the outside and clean on the inside,” he says.

Dinha, who grew up in a small town called Chitungwiza outside Harare, only spent six months in Poland. Thereafter, he returned to his native Zimbabwe where he played for Harare giants Caps United.

Seven Stars then snapped him up in 1998 before the club merged with Cape Town Spurs to form Ajax Cape Town. Pirates then signed from Ajax in 2002. The 48-year-old hung his boots in July 2008 after a stint with Mpumalanga Black Aces.

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