Takudzwa Chitsiga Sports Reporter
ORGANISERS of the Zimbabwe National Army Charities Soccer Shield are looking to draw huge crowds this year after launching a bigger and more inclusive tournament yesterday.
The tournament will this year feature eight teams, twice the number that participated last year with Bulawayo giants Highlanders opening the defence of their title against league champions Chicken Inn at Barbourfields on March 6.
Another derby is expected in Harare when CAPS United and Harare City clash at Rufaro on the same day while 2014 ZNA Charities Soccer champions FC Platinum host How Mine.
Last year’s finalists Dynamos will start the ball rolling next Sunday, when they date Sunday “Mhofu’’ Chidzambwa’s ZPC Kariba at Rufaro.
Army charities secretary Fabion Chitungo said they are looking for crowds this year since the tournament needs maximum support for the various charities that are supposed to benefit from the proceeds. Chitungo said participation was through invitations. The organisers also indicated they are still working on the tokens of appreciation and the prize monies for the participants.
“We are happy for the teams who responded to our invites and as usual there will be an appearance fee but we have not yet got the amounts at the moment,” Chitungo said.
Guest of honour at the launch, ZNA commander Phillip Valerio Sibanda, said they are happy that the event is bigger and better this year.
Sibanda said the football fiesta is one of the army’s various fundraising activities for their five charities that include the ZNA Schools Welfare Trust Fund which cater for various schools under the army, ZNA Patients Welfare Fund which provides assistance and welfare to members admitted in hospitals, Tsanga Lodge Convalescent Centre, ZNA Benevolent Fund and the ZNA Widows and Orphans Fund.
“I am happy that we have a good representation especially with the clubs as compared to last year. Tonight at this function our aim is to launch the fundraising campaign which is the first for the year and to focus on the ZNA charities soccer shield tournament.
“Last year we had this tournament with four teams participating but we saw it good to start with the quarter-finals to the finals but initially we had wanted the quarter-finals to be played concurrently but this was not possible,’’ Sibanda said.
Highlanders beat Dynamos 1-0 at Rufaro last year courtesy of Obadiah Tarumbwa’s strike to win the shield. They had beaten How Mine 1-0 in the semi-final while DeMbare had dismissed bitter rivals CAPS United 2-1 in the other match.
FC Platinum who won it in 2014 said they are happy to be part of the tournament again this year after excusing themselves last year to concentrate on the CAF Confederation Cup.
Dynamos v ZPC Kariba (Rufaro).
Highlanders v Chicken Inn (Barbourfields), FC Platinum v How Mine (Mandava), CAPS United v Harare City (Rufaro)