The King is dead, long live the Queen: Stephanie Travers. It’s now 22 years since Pat Travers, the man who dedicated his life to his beloved Arcadia United and became a legend within his community, died after suffering a heart attack. The King is dead, long live the Queen! He was 64.
He died at the Avenues Clinic in Harare, on July 16, 1998. Somehow, fate ensured that, in the week, and month, Pat’s family marked exactly 22 years after his death, his name — synonymous with the best in sports administration in this country — would again be trending around the world.
His granddaughter, Stephanie Travers, the daughter of his eldest son Bertram, has been rocking the world after she made history by becoming the first black woman to stand on the Formula 1 podium.
The landmark moment came at the Styrian Grand Prix, in Austria, when she was handed the honour of collecting the constructor’s trophy by the triumphant Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula 1 team.
Stephanie is a track fluid engineer for the team, having got the job in March last year, when she beat over 7 000 people who had applied for the post. For Stephanie, who said she grew up watching race cars, sport has always run in the family.
Her uncle, Pat, was a huge figure in Zimbabwean sport, one of the country’s top administrators, and a very influential character within the Arcadia community. Three times, during his life, he was handed the honour of leading his beloved Arcadia United, as the club chairman, at a time when the football team was one of the strongest sides in the country.
‘‘Pat was a legend of Arcadia,’’ the late Brian Harry, who also followed in his shoes to become a community leader and Arcadia United chairman, noted when Pat died. ‘‘(He was) easily the best and greatest son of the club.
‘‘He had been involved with the team since its inception in 1965.’’ And, those who live to this day, still remember a visionary leader who shaped their community and left a lasting impression on everyone who came across him.
“Pat Travers was instrumental in the early days when Arcadia United was formed in 1965 with my late dad, James Finch, being one of the founders,’’ former Arcadia United player, Simon Finch, told The Saturday Herald this week.
“Travers left a legacy, not only on the sports field administration but also in the corporate field, rising through the ranks to be a leader in Rixi Taxi and Total Zimbabwe. “The Arcadia United’s brand of good governance was instilled from way back by Pat Travers with many others like Brian Harry, Rummie Mohamed, to mention a few, following his lead.
‘‘He was always available to give his advice.’’ Simon’s father, Jimmy Finch, was one of the Dynamos founding members. Arcadia United might now be just a Division Two side but, during Pat’s time, they were a major force in the game, powered by the likes of George “TNT” Rollo, Herman “Sea Cottage” Hendrikse, Alan “Teacher” Hlatywayo, David Jeremiah, Hedley Layton, and Jimmy Finch.
The other greats included Raymond Hendrikse, Vincent van Wyk, Mohamed “Amato” Cader, Alvin Gough, Derick Petrie, Adolf David Zulu, Mutuma, Tommy Ballantyne, Cornelius Elijah, Titus Mgodi, Majid Dhana, Bethal Salis, Goosey Galloway, Reg Paizee and Reg Payne.
Virtually all of them were inspired by the leadership of Pat Travers, a man who rose through the leadership structures to become a member of the Sports Council, which preceded the Sports Commission, between 1985 and 1991, in which he chaired the regulator body’s finance committee.
Born Patson Peter Travers in Chinhoyi, on February 14, 1934, he went to St John’s High School in Harare where he was better known by his nickname “Short Cut.’’ It came from his tendency to always try and take the shortest route to goal. After hanging up his boots, in the ‘60s, he joined a musical group, the Arcadia Rhythm Lads, which used to have joint shows with the City Quads at Mai Musodzi Hall in Mbare.
He even accepted an invitation from one of London’s top band leaders in the ‘60s, Ted Heath, to play alongside him. But, sport, especially football, was always his first love and he became Arcadia United chairman in 1968, having won the hearts of his community after having been the driving force behind the building of the Arcadia Community Centre between 1957 and 1961.
Under his leadership, Arcadia United were transformed into a major force and they won the Castle Cup, in his first year at the helm of the club, and they successfully defended their silverware the following year.
In 1974, he took over as the chairman of the then Football Association of this country before leaving to return to his beloved Arcadia United. His funeral drew hundreds of sports administrators from across the country for his burial at Warren Hills.
But, 22 years later, his name continues to be felt throughout the sporting world with his granddaughter, Stephanie, taking it a notch higher with her trailblazing work in Formula 1.
Last year, she was honoured at the Zim Achievers Awards in London where, despite having lived in England since 2004, she was proud of her Zimbabwean roots. “I was so proud to be recognised by my very own Zimbabwean people,’’ she said. “Thank you to everyone who took their time to vote for me.
“I’m so humbled that my own people actually recognise the hard work that goes into what we are doing. I will always continue to fly the Zimbabwean flag high . . . love you Zimbabwe.’’
The King might be dead but the queen lives and, Stephanie is keeping alive her family’s proud name in sport. Pat Travers would certainly have been proud of her achievements.
Source – The Herald
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