THE Warriors participation at the 33rd AFCON tournament has held the nation spellbound over the last few days.
Yesterday, people were urged to wear yellow to show their support for the team.
Of course, we all may not possibly be in Cameroon, but the show of solidarity with the team was key to raise the morale.
Football, being the most popular sport in this country, it is always easy to forget that Zimbabwe has more teams participating at regional and global events at the same time.
How many knew that the Zimbabwe Under-19 cricket team are playing their first World Cup match in the West Indies today?
How many are aware that a Zimbabwe national team left the country yesterday for another Africa Cup of Nations (which is not the AFCON football tournament) taking place in another West African nation as from Monday?
So many events involving Zimbabwe national teams slated at the same time!
The senior cricket team is not to be left out as they will be resuming their quest to qualify for the 2023 ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup tomorrow.
But it is the Under-19 cricket side that needs our support as a matter of urgency. The youth team has a date against Papua New Guinea at the ICC Under-19 Men’s World Cup, which kicked off in the Caribbean yesterday.
The tournament is an important platform for future national team stars and is highly rated globally as several big names in the game have come through the platform.
Zimbabwean luminaries like Brendan Taylor, Tatenda Taibu, Sean Williams, Elton Chigumbura, David Mutendera and Hamilton Masakadza, who is now the director of cricket at Zimbabwe Cricket, have all played at the tournament before they became household names in cricket.
The 2022 class is led by 18-year-old Emmanuel Bawa, a survivor from 2020 edition of the tournament, where he made a hundred against Canada.
Zimbabwe eventually finished 11th at the previous tournament but the century put Bawa in an elite group of Zimbabwe batters — Mark Vermuelen, Brendan Taylor and Malcolm Lake — to make centuries at the Under-19 World Cup.
There is so much promise in this group that is coached by former national team player Prosper Utseya, despite the Covid-19 challenges they faced during the preparations.
Zimbabwe are in Group C along with Papua New Guinea, Afghanistan and two-time champions Pakistan.
In the run up to their first Group C match the youth side won four of the six warm up games.
They will engage Pakistan in the second game on Monday before completing the round robin games on January 22.
The youth side suffered Covid-19 scare after four members tested positive during the training camp in West Indies.
What they need is support from home, through social media, and many other platforms at our disposal, and also incentives just like what the Warriors in Cameroon have been getting.
The national senior women’s field hockey team need the same as they raise the country’s flag high at the 2022 Women’s Hockey Africa Cup of Nations in Ghana.
Zimbabwe are one of the eight countries that have qualified for the event. Coach, Patricia Davis, was full of confidence when the team left for Ghana yesterday.
They need to know the whole nation is behind them, as well, as they look to defend the Zimbabwe badge with honour.
The team has a tricky opening match on Monday against neighbours South Africa, who are the seven-time defending champions.
The team, which is captained by Mary Houghton, has been working together for some time, since the Tokyo Olympic Qualifiers in Stellenbosch, South Africa, in 2019.
They will also play Uganda and Namibia in Pool A, with the hope of making it among the top ranked nations at the tournament.
Then last, but not least, the Chevrons, who are in Sri Lanka for a three-match One Day International series that begins tomorrow.
The clash forms part of the ICC Super League, which is a qualification pathway to the ICC World Cup 2023.
So, as we focus on the popular AFCON tournament in Cameroon, let’s also not forget about the other disciplines.
To the football, hockey and cricket teams who are all battling to raise the national flag high, let’s give our all.
The whole nation is behind you.