e-Diski: Hello BBza!
Barry: Eita Ndex, long time.
e-Diski: Sure it's been ages. Where are you based now?
Barry: I am here in Gaborone. It's ok here, everything is well.
e-Diski: Do you have any family?
Barry: Yes, but many people know my boys, Mayfield and Billy. They played for Highlanders and Railstars. I have my daughter who is in Johannesburg.
e-Diski: What are you doing here in Botswana?
Barry: I came here to coach Premier League teams from Notwane, to Francistown and here in Gaborone. I am currently working with a youth development program. This was a team playing in the League but is shifting focus to development.
e-Diski: Wow, I know you work well with technical development, tell us more.
Barry: This is a well-funded and ambitious program for nurturing talent. It is a Happy Hearts Academy, more of what you were doing with KFA (Keutsepilemang Football Academy) at the ZITF.
e-Diski: Interesting Topie, but then, why are you not doing these programs in Zimbabwe?
Barry: You know very well that it is a question of funding. Money needs to be put in good hands for the infrastructure, equipment and salaries for this to be a reality. My son, Mayfield, is ready to start with the programs if guys like you, Mafu (Bongani) and others came together and try to get resources. Then we can strategise and see the way forward. I have been in touch with Gibson Homela and a similar program will be underway in partnership with Happy Hearts.
e-Diski: From my experience, promises for funding are everywhere, fulfilling them is another issue.
Barry: That is why this will be an ambitious undertaking but we believe in the partnership, and we are looking to start with under 13s and it is intended to have tours to play other youth developments and academies in South Africa and the neighbouring countries. To see development, we must be willing to sacrifice. It is not easy but you can see where football is going without any plans, development programs, coach education and so forth. Someone must honour up and come forward. We must stop complaining and act.
e-Diski: Is this inline with youth clubs of old?
Barry: The City Council built and organised youth centres for sports and cultural activities. There was money and people at those youth centres. Many players are a result of Tshaka Youth Centre in Makokoba even during our days. There was Thabiso Youth Centre and a lot others in Matshobane, Sizinda and so forth. It was like what Europeans call academies now. That is why we had great players. It will be hard to emulate that but we are hopeful of success.
e-Diski: Do you have any players you groomed from Makokoba who went to Tshaka Youth Centre?
Barry: There is plenty. All the players that graced Highlanders and represented the greater Bulawayo with pride and honour one way or another, came from these structures. They are a product of that system. Players like Makheyi Nyathi, Gift Lunga Senior, Adam Ndlovu, Nkululeko Dlodlo, and many others came from there.
e-Diski: Is this why Highlanders is struggling to produce that type of player today?
Barry: No one can say much about Bosso at the moment but I want to talk about the system that worked but was abandoned and the facilities are now white elephants. Stanley Square was home to all theatre and we saw great boxing matches there. It's all just good memories now.
e-Diski: When was your defining or breakthrough moment as a footballer?
Barry: I played in schools and the in the youth clubs that participated in BAFA leagues. I then played for Highlanders in 1965 at a difficult time before the team was promoted into the first Division. We played in Matshobana, Sizinda and all around the City of Bulawayo. That is why people always talk of Highlanders playing at Greenspan.
e-Diski: And then?
Barry: I went on to play for Wankie and promoted the team to the First Division and I won the 1973 Castle Cup while we were in the First Division.
e-Diski: But you came back to Bosso?
Barry: I came back to Bosso but the times were challenging and all the football in Rhodesia was in turmoil. In 1976, the RNFL (Rhodesia National Football League) championship had to be decided between Highlanders and Dynamos because they were equal on points. There were problems with money and politics.
e-Diski: Then you formed Olympics, why?
Barry: We wanted to play football despite all the problems we had. We formed Olympics where I was the first ever player-coach after undergoing coach training under experienced expatriates like Billy Asbury. That is the group that had the likes of Peter Nyama and Shepherd Murape.
e-Diski: Were your money problems solved by you rebelling and forming a splinter team?
Barry: We were sponsored by Archer by then and playing in the breakaway Southern Region Football League because of the unfairness of the mother body. So it was well for a moment until independence when the NRFL and SRFL came together to form the Super League. Only 10 teams from each region were permitted and Highlanders being in the Super League did not allow us to join as it would seem there is 2 Highlanders teams.
e-Diski: But then, who was Supersonic?
Barry: At a later time, Archer stopped their sponsorship and we were being bankrolled by Supersonic, that is all. It was just the same team but different sponsor. We had players like Boyce Malunga, Marko, Itai, and the like.
e-Diski: What was your memorable moment?
Barry: I won the Castle Cup with Wankie while in the First Division, and the formation of Olympics in 1976 becoming the first player coach. There are many.
e-Diski: A really decorated coaching career as well....
Barry: Yes, like coaching Highlanders, the national team and national Under 23. I coached Railstars, won the All Africa Games silver with Wieslow Grabowski in 1995. It has been a satisfying football journey for me.
e-Diski: What was the regrettable moment?
Barry: One can not live a life of regrets, no matter the mistakes you may make. I have always tried to be very positive and learn from the wrong decisions I have made. Otherwise, I could not be where I am. There are so many things I could have done differently but I have enjoyed reasonable success as a player and a coach.
e-Diski: Who was your best coach to work with?
Barry: A lot of fantastic guys. I worked with Roy Barretto, Rahman Gumbo, Cosmas Tsano Zulu and yourself. You were all different. Tsano was a physical condition specialist, Roy came from a different background and was a motivator, while Rahman had his playing experience. You came in with some useful analytic and statistic approach that made us play a lot easier against other teams. So it has always been learning from everyone and getting to use each other's experience.
e-Diski: Hahaha, you can say that because I am interviewing you hahaha.
Barry: Serious Ndex. I was sceptical myself when I started working with you. I knew you trained with us as a goalkeeper and I heard how you worked the previous years with Ernest Mpala and Max Shaluza Tshuma. When we sat down and you had all the data about the games you played, I started to think that I must take you a little serious. By the time we started the season with that Railstars team, I knew where we were going and everyone knows we could have gone nowhere without you. That is why I recommended you for positions with the mother body.
e-Diski: Thanks Topie, I am flattered and it's not everyday I get that from someone like you.
Barry: The truth is that coaches like myself, Gibson Homela, Mick Pool, Peter Nyama, Sunday Marimo and the like, have been in this game for a long time. You guys along with Mhlauri (Charles), Mafu (Bongani) and the late Benjamin Moyo were supposed to be the next generation of great coaches. It is still possible even at this moment for you guys to rise again.
e-Diski: What do you think of the game today?
Barry: The game has become scientific. While it is an art, it is now philosophical. Usually, people say PRACTISE MAKES PERFECT, which is wrong. PRACTICE MAKES PERMANENT and it becomes permanent damage if done wrongly. This is why I think youth programs must be revisited like when we had youth clubs. At this rate football is going down but there is hope. We have the material....
e-Diski: ..as in players?
Barry: ... yes, we have human resources and the facilities. All that is needed is the money. People must remember that as coaches we have families to feed. That is why we are here. Youth developmental programs like Barcelona and Real Madrid are the back-born of World champions, Spain. If you invest in the game, you will not go wrong.
e-Diski: What music do you listen to?
Barry: Cool Crooners
e-Diski: Hahaha, I think you also sang in that group?
Barry: Yes, but part-time. They are my good friends together with Kembo who people know from Lever Brothers TV commercials.
e-Diski: May you please sing me one line from any of their songs?
Barry: I can not sing anymore, my voice is hoarse and all I do is football now.
e-Diski: It's not like I will record and cut a CD. Maybe I can and then we can go and live in Hollywood, haha.
Barry: Doing what, Charlie Chaplin? Ok, (singing) 'Abantwana bayalamba kweminyi mizi, kodwa endlini kugcwelu fanishaaaaa! Abantwana bayalamba kweminyi mizi. Badlaa ipapa nobhiyaaaa!' (Children are hungry while the homes have good furniture. They eat porridge mixed with beer).
e-Diski: Hahahaha... You played with talent. Let's remix this one and we will be rich! BBza, thanks for your valuable time and for catching up once again. All the best in your endeavours.
Barry: It was my pleasure Ndex, anytime. Just think about what I was saying and let's keep in touch guys.
e-Diski: Sure, I am what I am in football because of the experience I gained working with you. God bless.
The story of Barry Daka is unending. It is as huge and long as the story of Highlanders Football Club. The man is full of knowledge and passion of the game. For his generation, Barry is miles ahead in terms of documenting his plans and implementing the plans. He reads books and believes in football modernisation than many who even came later than him in football. He commits to the game fully and his good sense of humour and great respect for others is a cut of the highest order.