A case for our sports sector

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THE Zimbabwe men’s cricket team victory on Sunday is one of those most welcome moments for our country currently experiencing very little joy in the field of sport after the world’s most popular sport, soccer, was whisked off the sports menu by some misguided bureaucrats.

We truly hope that the Chevrons, despite the fact that a sizeable section of Zimbabweans follow cricket, will keep on brightening our otherwise dull sporting life at the moment given that our football was condemned to the gutter by the Sports and Recreation Commission (SRC).

The Chevrons’ win forces us to revisit the plight of the country’s football and remind SRC that some decisions, if not well thought out, can destroy a whole nation’s morale and sense of nationhood.

In fact, when the various nations arrived last week for the International Cricket Council (ICC) T20 World Cup B 2022 qualifiers in Bulawayo, President Emmerson Mnangagwa welcomed them saying the tournament was an example of “the role sport plays in uniting people from diverse backgrounds as well as the ability to speak to us all in a language we all understand”.

It is now more than five months after SRC fired the Zifa board and attracted the ire of Fifa which subsequently banned the country from international football over government interference in the sport. Fifa has been mum and unflinching on its stance that Zimbabwe remains banned until it reinstates the Felton Kwamwendo-led board, making it very clear that until donkeys grow horns Zimbabwe will never be accepted back into the international football family.

We would have thought that if Mnangagwa really appreciates the role sport plays in uniting this very politically-divided nation, he would have taken serious interest in what has happened to our soccer. If his sentiments on the role of sport in uniting Zimbabweans were genuine, he would have by now even made sure that the Zifa board members’ case is fast-tracked at the courts where the SRC hopes to prove its allegations against the fired board members.

Our main point being that waiting for the slow wheels of the country’s justice system to roll on such a critical issue that helps unite us as a people makes many of us doubt Mnangagwa’s commitment to bringing sanity to the world’s most beautiful game.

In fact, as the court case continues to gather dust in remand many will end up believing that indeed government is meddling in the affairs of local football.

It is quite sad that the world out there has so much love for Zimbabwe that they wish we get some of these very things right. An example is the recent Cricket World Cup qualifiers which the ICC gave us to host after the world cricket body suspended the country some time back over SRC interference in cricket.

After the Zimbabwe government accepted its wrongs when it suspended the country’s cricket board, the international cricket community showed its eagerness to help the country develop and popularise cricket by offering it to host the T20 qualifiers.

The same is very possible for soccer, only if the SRC swallows its pride or at least if it quickly proves its case at the courts. But as it is, there is very little hope for the country’s most popular sport, which, unfortunately, can have a detrimental effect on all sports in general.