The sports heroes of our time

The Chronicle

 Ricky Zililo, Senior Sports Reporter
AS Zimbabwe celebrates the heroes and heroines who sacrificed their lives to liberate the country from the settler regime, one of the industries that is benefiting from independence is the sports sector.

The sports industry is a large global business. Billions of dollars are spent on sporting events, on sports teams as well as on sports-related equipment and apparel.

Sports stars are leading decent lives due to proceeds from the industry.

Kudakwashe Chiwandire

President Mnangagwa’s Government understands the importance of the growing sports industry and has been supporting the sector with the Head of State and Government calling for increased investment and upholding of professionalism in the sport.

New sports heroes are emerging and one of the many athletes to have received recognition for his exploits is Kudakwashe “Take Money” Chiwandire who was hosted at the State House in April for winning the World Boxing Council Interim Super Bantamweight title.

Some of the new sports idols that the present crop of athletes look up to include a host of prominent names who have had successful careers abroad.

Donata Katai

The present Sports Minister Kirsty Coventry remains an idol for winning multi-gold medals at the Olympics, a feat that no other local athlete has managed to attain.

Teenage sensation Donata Katai who became the first black swimmer to represent the country at the Olympics last year in Tokyo, is a rising star who is influencing the youngsters interested in sport because of her exploits.

Minister Kirsty Coventry

And who can forget the 1980 women’s national hockey team that won the gold medal at the Summer Olympics in Moscow, Russia?

In athletics, long distance runner Isaac Mpofu, who put up a stellar performance at last month’s World Athletics Championships in the United States of America to finish in the top 10 of the men’s marathon and in the process shatter Zimbabwe’s eight-year record, is a hero the discipline celebrates.

Isaac Mpofu

Mpofu defied the odds at Oregon but he almost missed the dream of going to the premium athletics meet after a technical blip at a qualification event in South Africa almost cost him a ticket to the world Championships. Mpofu came 10th in Oregon in a time of 2 hours 7 minutes 57 seconds to beat the previous national record that stood at 2 hours 9 minutes 52 seconds, set by Cuthbert Nyasango in 2014.

His qualifying time at the Durban International Marathon in South Africa in May, where he was disqualified for failing to wear a second bib at the back displaying a second licence number and had his prize money forfeited, was 2 hours 10 minutes 24 seconds.

In tennis, one of the country’s most promising players Kudzai Chapepa spent three months in France participating at the Grand Slam Player Development Programme (GSPDP), facilitated by the Confederation of African Tennis (CAT) in conjunction with the International Tennis Federation (ITF).

Kudzai Mashawi

The 14-year-old ace was part of eight African players at the GSPDP/ITF/CAT 14, a tournament that ran from June 30 to August 7.

Chapepa, who has dominated local and international age groups tournaments and trains under Gap Sports Consultancy at the Bulawayo Athletic Club (BAC), has gained competitive experience at an international level.

In the most popular sport, arguably the number one most followed and loved, football, ex-national team skippers Peter Ndlovu and Benjani Mwaruwari deserve special mention for setting pace with regards to “paying back” the community that shaped their careers.

Benjani Mwaruwari

Ndlovu used to sponsor the Peter Ndlovu Youth Tournament, a competition which drew youngsters from schools and teams around Zimbabwe in the late 1990s up to the early 2000s. A number of stars like Johannes Ngodzo, Mkhokheli Dube, Vusa Nyoni, Honour Gombami, Mthulisi Maphosa, played at the Ndlovu sponsored competition.

Mwaruwari set up his Benjani Mwaruwari Foundation, taking care of the less privileged in Magwegwe and also setting up a festival for the Under-14s and 16s.

Now we have Warriors stars – Marvelous Nakamba who plays for English Premiership side Aston Villa, France-based pair of striker Tinotenda Kadewere and Marshal Munetsi – sacrificing part of their earnings to support the under-privileged.

Marvelous Nakamba

The trio has set up foundations, with Nakamba paying school fees for over 1 000 pupils and running an Under-17 developmental tournament.

During the global Covid-19 pandemic, Kadewere donated to Harare City council emergency services frontline workers who were helping in fighting the pandemic.

United States based footballer Lucky Mkhosana has also been helping youngsters in his rural Plumtree home as part of his social responsibility programmes.

Lucky Mkhosana

These new breed of footballers, who are helping their communities and providing opportunities for youngsters deserve celebrating.

Honouring present sports heroes will be incomplete without the mention of cricketer Sikandar Raza who has been in great form for Zimbabwe.

Sikandar Raza

Raza, a Pakistan who adopted Zimbabwe as his country has been a key figure in the positive transformation of the cricket national team.

Chronicle Sports takes this opportunity to salute every sports person who has raised the national flag high and those who are striving to raise it.  — @ZililoR

Article Source: The Chronicle

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