FORMER Chapungu United chairman, Victor Zvobgo, says the death of national hero, Perrance Shiri, has left the club without its pillar of strength.
Zvobgo, who is a wing commander in the Air Force of Zimbabwe, worked as secretary-general, and then chairman, from the early 1990s up to around 1998.
"For Chapungu United, it's such a big loss because he was such a big supporter," said Zvobgo.
"He was the number one supporter, he really loved the team. He had it in his heart and we all loved him for that.
"He ensured that whenever we had any problems, he would come and assist us and we found the going a little bit easier.
"When you find that you have got your number one boss and, whenever you are playing, especially in Harare, you find him waiting for you and cheering you, you know it does wonders to your morale.
"Or, sometimes, let's say if we were going to play in Mhangura, or somewhere, he drives to come to Mhangura to watch us play, that really made the players feel special.
"It motivated them and that's why we used to play very good football then and would always be in the top three or top four.
"Also, when it came to sponsorship, he made it easier for us to get sponsors."
Shiri became patron of Chapungu United.
In 2010, he secured some kits, from Iran, for Chapungu and Blue Swallows.
"Sometimes, we also wanted to just to keep to ourselves as the military, as the Air Force, but he came with some ideas to say no, why don't you include local people from Gweru," said Zvobgo.
"We then ended up having some people, like the one who used to run some pharmacies in Gweru, as part of our team.
"We had two or three other committee members who were not Airforce of Zimbabwe employees and these were his ideas so that we become a team for the Gweru people.
"This created a very good rapport, between the people and the club itself.
"We also ended up with a lot of other young stars in the team, the likes of MaRhino (Maxwell Dube).
"They were not yet in the Airforce then but were playing for the team.
"That is all because the Air Marshal had directed us to do something like that, which was very good for the club."
Chapungu has produced some of the country's finest footballers who have gone on to play for the Warriors.
They include Dube, the 2001 Soccer Star of the Year, speedster, Phillip Marufu, Zimbabwe international goalkeeper, Edmore "Zikeeper" Sibanda, and Ephraim Mazarura, to name but a few.
Other top players who featured for the club include the Muteji twins, Abel and Cain, Gary Mkandawire and Nkulumo Donga.
Chapungu lifted the Zimbabwean Independence Trophy in 1994 and the Castle Cup in 1995.
They have been in and out of the Premier League over the years.