End of May the Zimbabwean U16 basketball teams brought glory to the nation as they qualified for the Afro-basket Games held in Mali from the 10th to the 19th of July after coming 1st and 2nd in Gaborone in the Zone 6 Games.
The girls’ team scooped first place in the tournament out of four countries beating the highly rated and feared Angolans.Even though the Zimbabwean players were poorly sponsored for Gaborone , they rose to the occasion and beat all other teams by huge margins. As for the boys, they were 2nd overall after winning two games by also very large margins.
This was the first time in a long time for both the girls’ and boys’ teams to qualify for the élite Afro-Basket games. With the hope that their $38000 trip would be a success, the youngsters began training even with internal exams on their way.
“The trip was cancelled last-minute due to lack of funding and the girls cried uncontrollably, ” recalled Tapuwa Mungunyana, the girls’ coach in a down-hearted tone. This is not the first time that basketball players’ dreams have been shuttered after making it to such a high level and putting in months of hard work.
It is very unfortunate that a lot of national team sports can not find sponsors for prestigious games such as this. The lack of support eventually discourages the talented athletes from continuing with their sports which might have made a difference to their lives let alone the nation.