AS we sat down for this exclusive interview, in the tranquil environs of Harare’s leafy suburb of Chisipite, there was a sparkle in Jonah Reinhard Fabisch’s eyes, as he made his New Year’s resolution.
The 17-year-old Hamburger SV central midfielder and son to the late Zimbabwe national team coach, Reinhard Fabisch, was in the country over the festive season. He also took it upon himself to visit his mother’s rural home in Mutoko, a place he has celebrated some of his birthdays before. The late Reinhard Fabisch married former national 100-metres hurdles record holder Chawada Kachidza in 2000, and Jonah was born the following year in Nairobi, Kenya, where the mentor once had a coaching stint.
Jonah is now one of the brightest prospects in Germany’s youth football, having impressed at Hamburger SV’s Under 19 team, where he has a contract that runs until 2020.
“I wasn’t born yet when my father coached the Zimbabwe national team, but from what I have read and heard, I am convinced the late Reinhard Fabisch was loved here.
“I feel like Zimbabwe is my second home and it is for this reason that I would want to play for the country, even though I am also eligible for Germany,” Fabisch junior, who was in the company of his mother, told The Sunday Mail on New Year’s Eve.
Warriors’ team manager Wellington Mpandare also got wind of the Fabisch family’s visit to Zimbabwe and also tracked the highly rated player.
Mpandare engaged Kachidza and Fabisch junior in a two-hour meeting, from which it emerged chances were high the midfielder would choose the Warriors over Die Mannschaft, as the German national team is also known as.
“Jonah already has a Zimbabwean passport, which makes it easier for him to play for the Warriors. The boy has passion for his mother’s country of birth and he also seems to like the Warriors a lot,” revealed Mpandare.
The Zimbabwe Football Association has been on a drive to lure diaspora-born Zimbabweans to play for the Warriors, with the likes of Nottingham Forest player Tendai Darikwa and Welsh-based Alec Mudimu now part of Sunday “Mhofu” Chidzambwa’s squad.Efforts are also underway to process papers for another German-based striker Kelly Lunga, son to former Warriors forward Max Lunga, and red-hot Leyton Orient player Macauley Bonne.
And Jonah Reinhard Fabisch could soon become the latest diaspora-based player to join the Warriors fold, 25 years after his late father built the “Dream Team”, which comprised the likes of Bruce Grobbelaar, Ephraim Chawanda, Francis Shonhayi (late), Norman Mapeza, Benjamin Nkonjera (late), Vitalis Takawira, Agent Sawu, Adam Ndlovu (late) and Peter Ndlovu.
The late Fabisch’s “Dream Team” went for a record 12 games unbeaten at the National Sports in both the Africa Cup of Nations and World Cup qualifiers between 1992 and 1995. African football giants Cameroon and Egypt, as well as the likes of Angola, Togo, Guinea and South Africa, were some of the teams that were belittled by Fabisch’s gallant squad.
“My father has a huge legacy here in Zimbabwe and I feel like I need to do this (play for Zimbabwe) in his honour,” revealed Jonah.
“I have been invited for German national youth teams but I haven’t yet made my decision on my senior national career.
“But I have got this strong attachment to Zimbabwe, it is my home country so I can say 90 percent I will play for the Warriors.”
Jonah Fabisch is so fond of Zimbabwean football that he has been following the ongoing 2019 African Cup of Nations qualifiers with keen interest.
“I have been following the Warriors matches through online stories because it is difficult watching Zimbabwean matches in Germany.
“I am aware the Warriors recently beat DR Congo away and are on the verge of making it to the 2019 AFCON finals.
“I also know we have a Zimbabwean playing UEFA Champions League for club Brugge and he is Marvellous Nakamba.
“I even watched the Warriors first match at 2017 AFCON finals against Algeria, I was just 15 then but I still remember how the Warriors displayed some real teamwork effort.
“I can still remember this tough midfielder Willard (Katsande). I later heard he is also from Mutoko where my mother comes from,” revealed Fabisch junior.
Reinhard Fabisch passed away on July 12 2008 after a long illness, but that was after he had charmed millions of Zimbabwean football lovers with his “Dream Team” project, before moving to Mamelodi Sundowns, Kenya, Qatar, United Arab Emirates and Benin.Not only did the late Fabisch charm local soccer lovers, he also won the heart of Mutoko-bred Kachidza, who agreed to marry the German mentor in December 2000.
“That was just before his (Fabisch) third stint with the Kenyan national team. I speak so fondly of my late husband, he was the love of my life.
“He courted me for a couple of years before he proposed in 2000, and Jonah was born the following year in Nairobi, Kenya,” Kachidza told The Sunday Mail.
“So when Mistry Chipere (of the Zimbabwe Foreign Legions) made the contact, I thought we should give Jonah a chance to decide if he wants to play for Zimbabwe. But I know he wants to,” she added. A former Zimbabwean sprinter of repute, Kachidza, is taking a leading role in the development of the central midfielder who recently earned an Adidas endorsement contract.
“From the day his late father told me to look after his football career, I have never looked back. Reinhard discovered Jonah’s talent as early as he was six and also noticed that he was left-footed.
“He then made sure Jonah would hit a 100 balls with his right foot every day and I think that did the trick as this child is now strong with both feet.
“I also make sure I take care of both his physical and mental strength, being a fitness trainer myself. We also make sure we go to the United Kingdom annually for speed drills with renowned speed coach Stan Madiri,” said Kachidza.