Petros Kausiyo Deputy Sports Editor
MORE than a decade after they endured their most forgettable moment when collapsing under the weight of crippling funding problems, Harare City Hornets have been on a revival mission and appear poised to become a force in domestic basketball again. City Hornets who produced a fine forward — Farai Tumbare and Kudzai Moyo (now Cameo coach) — at the peak of their powers have been undergoing a rebirth under the leadership of Sunny Mbofana, who has returned to basketball administration after being a key member of the executive committee that helped Harare City’s football side gain promotion into the Premiership
But away from the artificial turf at Rufaro where the Sunshine Boys do their business and to the more serene ambience of the Richwood Park basketball courts, Mbofana and his management have seen the City Hornets project underline their rejuvenation after going on a 17-match winning streak to top the Harare Basketball Association B-League standings.
The other members of the committee that has managed to convince the Harare City Council to give as much support to basketball as they do to the Sunshine Boys includes, vice-chairman Charles Mabika, secretary-general Forster Manhezhu, legal secretary Wisdom Gandanzara, treasurer Linos Mutero, vice-secretary Fortunate Zimbiru, committee member Ephraim Dzvene and Luxon Kadengu who is the club’s administrator.
City Hornets’ exploits have not gone unnoticed as they have also grabbed the attention of the national selectors with four of their players — forward Tatenda Maturure baseman Brian Hore, and power forward Charles Chum and shooting guard Duncan Shenje — being part of the national team.
Maturure is currently rated the country’s Most Valuable Player while Shenje is the national team’s vice captain.
It is a rare feat to have a B-League side providing four players to the senior national team and City Hornets, spurred on by their achievement now want to go on and conquer in the A- League next season and both their coach Talent Marembe and Mbofana believe they have the pedigree to make a huge impact in the elite league.
The Herald Sport this week tracked the City Hornets’ redemption journey and caught up with Mbofana and Marembe as their charges went about their training on the court.
City Hornets have also been invited to take part in the Bob 92 basketball tourney next weekend, went about their practice session in the capital.
Mbofana is also one of the pioneers of the club that started with just one ball which the late Nobleman Zongoro used to provide to his workmates at Harare Municipal Security headquarters every Wednesday in 1991.
“Now that we have managed to secure some financial support and assembled a strong team, we wouldn’t want to go into the A- League just to make up the numbers but make a huge statement about who City Hornets are.
“We believe we have the pedigree both administratively and technically and our results have been showing that. We have a vision of representing Zimbabwe in the African Club championships in much the same way as the football team is representing the country in the CAF competition,’’ Mbofana said.
Marembe who has been with City Hornets for the last seven years paid tribute to his players and the club’s leadership for the team’s revival.
“I would say our stability and good run is a combination of technical coordination, the hard work of the players and a sound administration.
“We acquired some of the seasoned players and three of them had been with JBC and we now have those experienced players blending with the guys we always had, players like Duncan Shenje and Evans Gasva who were leading the team ,’’ Marembe said.
Marembe also saluted the competition in their league where versatile sportsman Costa Dinha is also playing for Gladiator Nights. Dinha is a former Zimbabwe senior rugby team captain who has also represented the country at senior level in basketball.
“There is a lot of competition in the league but I would like to believe that our fine run is more about the hard work that we are putting at the court and in the gym.
“We are trying to build combinations so that we really gel. There are strong teams like Gladiator Nights who also have experienced players like Eric Banda, Costa Dinha and Benjamin Jani. If one looks at what we are doing he can see that we are on a revival of the Tumbare era and I think with this team we can achieve far more than our predecessors. Our executive has been the key link between the club and the sponsors and they have worked hard to see that this team rises to the top.
“In November last year we came third at the Bulawayo Invitational tournament that was won by JBC and had Mercenaries from Mutare as the runners-up.
“Now for the Bob 92 Cup we have to face tough teams again like Hustlers, Varsity, JBC, Cameo, Black Rhinos, Airforce Falcons, Matero Magic of Zambia, and I understand there are teams too coming from Swaziland and Botswana but we will not be intimidated,’’ Marembe said.
The Bob 92 tournament gets underway tomorrrow at various venues in Harare.
Marembe also enthused over having national team players in his ensemble.
“Having three or four players in the national team is every coach’s dream and it is every club’s dream to house the national stars and the kind of experience they garnered from playing at the Afro-basketball championships has been helping us a lot.