THE Zimbabwe Warriors’ successful defence of their COSAFA Cup crown in Polokwane, South Africa, last Saturday, sparked wild celebrations across a country charmed by the never-say-die spirit demonstrated by our footballers in that titanic final against Zambia.
The team’s defiance, and refusal to throw in the towel, when everything was pointing to a loss as they trailed going into the final minute of regulation time, was the kind of indomitable spirit that has always defined us as Zimbabweans.
Rather than surrender, our Warriors kept knocking on the door of the opponents, looking for that breakthrough which they knew their efforts merited and, in the final minute of the game, they got their due rewards with Tinotenda Kadewere scoring our equaliser to take the game into extra-time.
From there onwards, there was only one winner and Khama Billiat, the talisman of the Warriors who were in South Africa, duly took over and imposed his class on the proceedings as he earned, and converted, a penalty, to thrust us into the lead before killing off the game as a contest with our fourth goal.
The Warriors are a very important team in this country because they unite the entire nation across all the divides —be they political, racial or religious — and bring everyone who calls himself or herself a Zimbabwean under one umbrella in support of their cause.
When they win, as was the case at the COSAFA Cup, they provide all of us with the bragging rights that come with calling ourselves champions of the region and, even when this country is having challenges, the team’s success helps to cheer the spirits of our people.
Fans love to see representatives, who will be representing them in battles on the international sporting arena, who give it their all for the cause of the country, who never give up even when the odds are stacked against them and who fight to the last whistle.
Even on the occasions that such representatives fail, which can happen in sport where you can never win all the battles, the fans derive comfort from the fact that their ambassadors gave it their all, but sadly, it was not good enough.
That is why we join the nation in saluting our heroic Warriors for the way they refused to throw in the towel in that final against Zambia, who are our biggest rivals when it comes to football, and found a way to level the match and send it into extra-time.
We also hope that the Warriors’ defiance will show our other national teams, like the Sables who plunge into a key Rugby World Cup Qualifier against Morocco at Harare Sports Club today, that we are a nation that never gives up, no matter the odds we face.
The Sables have to roar again, starting with the match against the Moroccans, and return to the World Cup where they have been missing for a long time.
There is no doubt that we have the talent in this game, and that is why we keep producing some great players, including those who are starring for South Africa’s Springboks and the Wallabies of Australia, and we have the capacity to return to the Rugby World Cup.
We have always argued that our Sables were being let down by some incompetent administrators who did not know how to help the players that we have become a competitive unit good enough to return to the Rugby World Cup.
Now that we have a rugby leadership that is showing signs of doing things the right way, and who are being rewarded for their professionalism by a number of big sponsors who are injecting a lot of money into this game once again, it was about time that our Sables, just like our Warriors, start roaring again.
The current rugby leadership, led by Arnold Jani, who came in with the advantage of having played this game at a high level, knows what is needed to ensure that players are provided with the right environment for them to perform to expectations at such high levels like qualifiers for the World Cup.
The decision to appoint the experienced Peter de Villiers, who used to coach two-time world champions South Africa’s Springboks, was a masterstroke and, hopefully, we will see a different and buzzing Sables side when they plunge into action against the Moroccans.
We should be a nation of winners across all sporting disciplines, and last Saturday the Warriors showed that this is possible with their successful defence of the COSAFA Cup in an adventure which also brought to the fore a number of emerging talented footballers who could make a huge difference in our national team going into future battles.
Now, the baton has been passed to the Sables and they simply have to deliver before what is expected to be a full house at Harare Sports Club with thousands of fans backing their cause.