Takudzwa Chitsiga Sports Reporter
THE Zimbabwe Rugby Sevens team the Cheetahs got a timely boost ahead of their tour of Namibia when they received a sponsorship deal worth about $15 000 from a local telecommunications company Powertel yesterday.
The Cheetahs will take part in the Safland Windhoek Sevens tomorrow and Saturday; and according to reports from Namibia, nine teams, namely Zimbabwe, Poland, Northern All Stars, Bulls, South Africa, Kenya, Botswana and the hosts Namibia, have already confirmed their participation in this competition.
From Namibia, the Cheetahs will return home for a few days before they head off to Kenya for the Safaricom Safari Sevens set for the beginning of October.
And the Cheetahs yesterday received some fully paid gym access, dongles, cellphones, sim cards, airtime and caps from Powertel before their scheduled departure for Namibia this morning.
Team coach Daniel Hondo said the partnership with Powertel came at the right time as they seek to prepare to take on Kenya next month.
“I think the sponsorship will go a long way in motivating the players and we are looking forward to the event in Namibia which will work as a good platform for us as we prepare for the 2016 Olympic Games qualifiers.
“We have managed to do our best in our preparations and have been preparing for this game since the beginning of the year.
“We have been on the right track for sometime and the preparations are good. Our goal is to work towards Kenya as they have been on the circuit and we are not taking anything away from the other teams in the pool but beating Kenya will be good for us,” Hondo said.
Hondo went on to say that while they wanted to do well in Namibia and Kenya, they had their sights firmly set on the 2016 Olympic qualifiers for Africa set for Johannesburg, South Africa, on November 14 and 15.
At the qualifiers, one team from the continent will automatically book a spot at the Rio Olympics while the runners-up head into a playoff against second-placed teams from other continents.
ZRU chief executive Colleen de Jong praised Powertel for coming on board and believes this will go a long way in helping the team keep up to date with information.
“The boys will now focus on winning games as they will be provided with gym facilities to remain fit.
“I am happy that this partnership will go a long way in improving the sport.
“We are grateful for the partnership and it is a one-year contract that will push us to make it to the 2016 Olympics,” said de Jong.
Powertel marketing manager Prosper Mutswiri said they are happy to partner Zimbabwe Rugby Sevens.
“We are happy to be associated with the team and I hope they are going to do us proud,” he said
Meanwhile, the Zimbabwe seven women’s side, the Lady Cheetahs, are also expected to leave the country today for South Africa where they will take part in the Rio Olympics qualifiers. The qualifiers are set for Saturday and Sunday at the Barnard Stadium in Johannesburg.
Zimbabwe, ranked fourth in Africa, were drawn in Pool A together with Uganda, Namibia, Zambia and the hosts South Africa while Pool B consists of Tunisia, Botswana, Madagascar, Kenya and Senegal.
Boyd Rouse, Biselele Tshamala, Shayne Makombe, Hilton Mudariki, Tadius Dzandiwandira, Takudzwa Kumadiro, Stephan Hunduza, Graham Kaulback, Tafadzwa Chitokwindo (captain), Lucky Sithole, Kuda Chiwanza, Takudzwa Francisco.
Lady Cheetahs team
P. Marange (captain), M. Magwaro, A. Gondo, T. Chitewe, C. Muchuchuti, H. Marange, S. Kadye, R. Musere, O. Chikukura, R. Chigumbo, P. Pazani (vice-captain), C. Ngwende, C. Malinga