They rise above their raising

17 July 2017 | Sports

A few weeks ago Zimbabwe overpowered their northern neighbours Zambia 3-1 to win the 2017 Cosafa Castle Cup and take a record fifth title. What a magnificent achievement by a team which showed spirited performance and commitment.

But, before this win, we can all attest to the fact that soccer in Zimbabwe just like other sectors of its economy has been, in the intensive care unit for years. Like its soccer pal, Namibia, Zimbabwe also struggles with financing for football. Empty stands, empty football association coffers and teams that have lost quality players – is a sign that football in the country is in the hands of amateurs with limited vision.

However, when they stepped onto the pitch to face Zambia they beat the Zambians fair and square. They shrugged off the fatigue to get the better of Zambia, who had only come into the tournament halfway through and were playing only their third game.

Knox Mutizwa, Talent Chawapiwa and Ocean Mushure all scored in a convincing victory for the Warriors, who took the trophy despite a rigorous schedule that saw them having to play six matches inside a fortnight.

Zimbabwe gave long suffering football fans in their country realistic hope that their team is well on its way to higher ranks.

Because of the team's resilience, I take my hat off to these players. Why? You may ask. Why not? They come from a country grappling with a serious cash crunch and crippling economic challenges. Earlier in the year they crashed out of the 2017 AFCON at the group stages. The players were energy sapped by endless feuds with the national federation. But that did not stop them as they went on to win the tournament. They don't wear the best kit or the best soccer boots in the world, but they play as a team and with synergy that many nations lack.

If there is no cohesion in the football structures, players reflect that on the field. But, not Zimbabweans. When you watch them play you see unity, hunger to achieve something, because their gains are never handed on a silver platter. They have to always work hard to get what they want.

Many teams in Africa, or rather if we look at our own situation, facing similar financial doldrums that are killing the game of football in this country, resilience does not come through. But, these players when they get on the field seem to forget their woes back home and play to win. They go out and play with pride. Yes, here and there you get occasional complaints like any other team and its because they must put food on the tables of their families. But their discipline when they attack should be commended.

Yes, in Namibia we do not enjoy domestic football, because of obvious reasons. But does that stop an athlete from training and investing in you? Does a soldier go to sleep because there is no war? He never buries his weapon, but has it always lest he gets a surprise attack.

To expect the Zimbabwean team to thrive in a country where everything around the players is crumbling is stretching optimism too far. But, they must be applauded for the effort they made to win the Cosafa Cup, showing the rest of Africa that despite the lack of resources if one applies himself well, positive results will come.

Our football players in this country should learn from this for Namibian soccer to remain in top notch and hopefully win the hearts of sponsors.

I also hope that the Warriors will use the money which they won at Cosafa wisely. One day your effort will leave you perched on the pinnacle of global stardom. To the fans who always urge their team with spirited chanting and the loudest at the stadium whenever their team plays, I urge you continue doing so and hopefully this will teach your neighbours a thing or two about football patriotism.

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