Innocent Dambudzo Benza, a prominent Zimbabwean entrepreneur, educator, and Zanu-PF politician, has gained widespread recognition for his remarkable journey. Notably, he holds the title of the oldest player in the Zimbabwe Premier Soccer League, representing and owning Herentals Football Club.
Age and Early Life
Born on May 17, 1972, Innocent Benza spent his early years in Rusape alongside his brothers, Gerald and Paul Benza. Paul, currently the coach for the Herentals Under-20 team, shares a rich sporting background with his brothers.
Family Ties and Children
Benza’s passion for football transcends generations. His son, Tinotenda, shares the same love for the sport and has captained the Warrior Under-17 team. Additionally, Benza has two other sons, Tafadzwa and Tariro, who made a mark in rugby.
Innocent Benza laid the foundation for his sporting career at St Augustine’s Tsambe Mission School in Nyanga. Actively participating in the boys’ soccer team, his early education set the stage for his future accomplishments.
Beyond the football field, Benza has made significant strides in the transport and mining business. He is also the proud owner of the Herentals Group of Colleges, showcasing his commitment to both sports and education.
Football Career Highlights
Embracing his passion for football at the age of 43, Benza entered the professional arena with Herentals in the Northern Region Soccer League. Despite facing skepticism, he played 100 games in three seasons, breaking records as the oldest player in the Zimbabwean league at 45.
In 2018, Herentals, led by Benza, secured a commendable sixth-place finish in their debut Premiership season. Notably, in October 2022, he made history as the first 50-year-old participant in Zimbabwe’s Chibuku Super Cup.
Historic Moments and Achievements
Adding to his list of accomplishments, Benza and his son, Tinotenda, created history by becoming the first father and son duo to play together in the local Premiership. In 2019, he set another milestone by becoming the oldest player to score a goal in the Castle Lager Premiership.
Turning to politics, Benza ran as a Zanu-PF candidate for Mutasa Central Constituency in the 2013 elections. Despite facing defeat, his venture into politics showcases his diverse interests and contributions beyond the sporting arena.