Innocent Benza Biography | Background | Age | Children | Education | Businesses | Career as a Footballer | Career as a Politician
Innocent Dambudzo Benza, a Zimbabwean entrepreneur, educator, and Zanu-PF politician gained widespread recognition as the oldest player in the Zimbabwe Premier Soccer League. He is affiliated with and plays for Herentals Football Club, of which he is also the owner.
Benza was raised in Rusape alongside his brothers, Gerald and Paul Benza. Paul currently serves as the coach for the Herentals Under-20 team.
Innocent Benza was born on May 17, 1972.
Benza’s son, Tinotenda, shares his passion for football and previously captained the Warrior Under-17 team. Additionally, Benza has two other sons, Tafadzwa and Tariro, who were previously rugby players.
Innocent Benza attended St Augustine’s Tsambe Mission School in Nyanga, where he actively participated in the boys’ soccer team.
Benza is in the transport and mining business. He is also the owner of the Herentals Group of Colleges.
Career as a Footballer
Benza embarked on his professional football career at the age of 43 when Herentals made their debut in the Northern Region Soccer League. Three years later, they clinched the championship, securing their place in the Premiership.
During his three seasons in the NRSL First Division, Benza made 100 appearances for Herentals.
Some critics have ridiculed Benza, considering him an elderly man fulfilling childhood dreams of playing professional football solely because he owns a top-flight club.
At the age of 45, Benza broke the record for the oldest player in the Zimbabwean league, surpassing the late Benson Soko, who played for Wankie at the age of 43 in 1998.
In Herental’s debut season in the top flight in 2018, Benza played 29 games and helped the club secure a sixth-place finish.
In October 2022, Innocent Benza made history as the first 50-year-old player to participate in Zimbabwe’s knockout tournament, the Chibuku Super Cup.
Furthermore, Benza and his son, Tinotenda, achieved a significant milestone by becoming the first father and son duo to play together in the local Premiership.
In 2019, he set another record as the oldest player to score a goal in the Castle Lager Premiership, delivering a remarkable strike against Chapungu at Rufaro Stadium.
Career as a Politician
In the 2013 elections, Innocent Benza ran as a Zanu-PF candidate for Mutasa Central Constituency. However, he was defeated by the MDC-T candidate, Trevour Saruwaka.