MANICALAND’s topflight club rugby flagship team Mutare Sports Club at 4am today (Thursday) left for the Mopani 15s Rugby Tournament in Kitwe, Zambia slated for Saturday.
The Mutare Shumbas as they are fondly known needed to fundraise $3000 for travel costs for the trip which they did through a raffle and donations by well-wishers.
They managed to raise $1374 from the raffle ticket sales and the other deficit of $1626 was raised through donation pledges. Apart from the funds pledged on the raffle draw night on Monday, a timely donation of $1000 came through yesterday from a well-wisher based in the United States, who requested anonymity, who is part of the Mutare Boys’ High School alumni group, Men of Valour (MOV). MOV is a Trust comprising of alumni from Mutare Boys’ High which helps fundraise money and any other resources for many projects at the school but apart from that, through some individuals, the Trust has been also assisting some notable initiatives by alumni in the spirit of brotherhood. This donation put the icing on the cake to cover for some of the pledges that were promising to come in late.
Mutare Sports Club (MSC) and Harare Sports Club (HSC) were the two invitational teams from Zimbabwe invited to participate in the third edition of the one-day tournament being held at Diggers Rugby Club in Nkana West in Kitwe. HSC is however not attending the tournament due to unspecified logistical reasons.
The tournament bankrolled by Mopani Copper Mines started in 2016 and each year draws all the teams in the topflight Zambia National Rugby League. This will however be its first time to host foreign clubs.
MSC team manager Cassper ‘Belt’ Bandi thanked all those who contributed.
“I would really want to thank everyone for committing to ensure we travel to Zambia for this historic tournament. Not undermining any contribution, I will give a special thank you to our elder brother who requested anonymity in the media, but donated US$1000 cash which we direly needed. Our heartfelt thanks also goes to Misheck Mugadza the aspiring Zanu-PF Mutasa South candidate and President Mutare Sports Club. He fulfilled his $500 pledge yesterday (Wednesday), which was also a very big contribution,” said Bandi.
During the donations presentation, MSC secretary Brian Kutiwa encouraged the team to represent Manicaland well and Zimbabwe at large. He also urged local companies especially the mining companies to take a leaf from Mopani Copper Mines that sponsors such a huge rugby tournament.
The journey by road to Kitwe from Mutare is 1110km, approximately a 16 hours drive. Bandi said they hope to arrive on time for the tournament draw tonight at 9pm. Tomorrow they will have a full day to rest and prepare for the tournament on Saturday.
This will be the first time for the Mutare side to participate in an invitational tournament outside the country since 1993. They last participated in an invitational tournament in Malawi in 1993.
The Shumbas will play against top teams in the topflight Zambia National Rugby League. In the incumbent Northern (Harare) Rugby League, the Mutare Shumbas are currently on fourth place behind Old Georgians, HSC and Old Hararians respectively followed by Alex Sports Club, XP Horns and Police Defenders which trail behind on fifth, sixth and seventh place respectively.
Diggers Rugby Club chairman Chileshe Bweupe in his invitation letter said they were excited about hosting the Zimbabwean clubs this year.
As the hosts, Diggers Rugby Club from tonight till Sunday will provide accommodation and all the meals for the touring squad of 28, including 23 players and five officials.
Mutare Sports Club rugby squad
Jones Quinton Dedza, Blessing Chizaza (vc), Albertt Bertz Gotora, Tinashe Guwa
Hopeful Gunda, Dylan Tee Jerah, Emmanuel Kawadza, Joseph Knight, Dawson Pasirai, Tafara King Manyika, Moss Kapumha, Armson Makumbe, Nigel Marange, James Marimbire, Innocent Matiyashe, Robray Matsanga, Tanaka Mufandauya, Dennis Museredza, Gamuchirai Muskwe, Brendon Thom, Tinotenda Nyawasha, Gideon Muyambo (c), Takunda Tsunga, Chrispen Chigabo.
Cassper Bandi, Mackenzie Munetsi, Walter Njowa, Evelyn Chisingarambwe