By Eddie Chikamhi
Minister of Sport, Arts and Recreation Kazembe Kazembe yesterday said the accident which led to the amputation of CAPS United skipper Hardlife Zvirekwi’s hand was an eye-opener to the Government and he would lobby for a robust framework to look into the players’ welfare during and after their playing careers. Kazembe yesterday visited the Warriors defender on his hospital bed to deliver a message of encouragement two days after the Makepekepe kingpin underwent surgery in Harare.
Zvirekwi was involved in a car crash in the early hours of Monday morning.
Kazembe said Government was already seized with crafting a policy to look into such matters after the topic came up during one of the recent conferences with the stakeholders in the sport industry.
“What I can say is that as Government, to a certain extent, it’s an eye-opener. Not that we haven’t been thinking about it, but as Government we are thinking of coming up with a holistic national policy, which looks at all these issues and all these mishaps which affect players during and after their playing days.
“So, we are coming up with a robust kind of solution, which looks at all those issues and the welfare of players, especially when they are faced with this predicament. I think that’s what I can promise to the sports industry as a whole,” said Kazembe.
“We will do what we can to assist him. Otherwise I cannot really promise on behalf of Government that we are going to give a specific assistance directly to him. Maybe, we can do whatever we can to try and find sponsors who can assist.
“We need to look at this issue holistically to say what can we do for the players as a whole? We have been thinking about it and we are in the process of coming up with a policy that will address all those issues.
“When we were interacting with the stakeholders, this came up – the issue of the welfare of the players. It’s something that we are seized with to try and see how best we can address this issue because it’s a big issue.
“We even have the likes of former players like George Shaya and many others out there who went through hard times. All those examples are eye-openers and it compels us as Government to come up with a robust framework within which players can be assisted.”
Zvirekwi has had a number of people coming to comfort him in hospital in the last three days, with NetOne, the CAPS sponsors, handing him a food hamper yesterday. ZIFA president Philip Chiyangwa paid him a visit on Tuesday and promised to help with his treatment.
Yesterday he was surrounded by family members, CAPS United players and officials led by club president Farai Jere and chief executive Cuthbert Chitima and supporters fronted by Paddington Japajapa who also prayed for the injured defender.
Kazembe said he hoped Zvirekwi recovers in the shortest possible time and return to the field of play. “Obviously, these been painful moments, but still we have to praise God that I am still around and I will be back soon,” said Zvirekwi.
“I want to thank everybody for the support – the minister (Kazembe), our club president (Jere) and the whole nation. They have been so supportive, they have been with me in their prayers, so I thank everybody for showing love. It’s been of great comfort to me and my family as well,” he said.
Chitima said Zvirekwi could be discharged today. “In terms of the information that we have so far, he is expected to be discharged tomorrow morning (today).
“The doctor that has been looking after him said we should come back around 8:00am for a proper briefing on what they expect the healing period to be and his future as well.
“Otherwise, Hardy is now feeling okay. I think he is a strong person. For him, he is just looking forward to come back and play. That’s the spirit in him.
“I am sure we are going to be guided by what the doctors are going to say. But we were discussing with the president saying first of all we need to get the report from the doctors and let’s hear what they have to say. If need be, as a team, we are definitely going to assist him get treatment elsewhere.
“I think the love shown by the football community has been very marvellous. We are so happy, it makes you feel belonging to a community; you feel belonging to a very big football family.
“We have seen Highlanders players and supporters, CAPS United, Dynamos players and supporters and from many other clubs. They were here. I think it only demonstrated that yes, for 90 minutes we can be rivals, but after that we are a family. I am so happy about that,” said Chitima.