Petros Kausiyo Deputy Sports Editor
SPORT, Arts and Recreation Minister Kazembe Kazembe has hailed the Zimbabwe Rugby Union decision to hire Peter De Villiers as national coach and noted that the landmark move highlights the turnaround taking place at the association.
Just a year ago, Zimbabwe Rugby were a toxic union poisoned by serious in-fighting and gross maladministration that they even embarrassed the nation when they failed to organise accommodation for visiting Zambian teams.
But there has been a change of guard since December 2, that ushered in Aaron Jani’s leadership, and in just two months, their turnaround strategies have charmed former South African coach De Villiers, who was unveiled as the Sables coach on Wednesday.
Jani led his executive, which included his two deputies – Losson Mtongwizo and Martin Shone – and acting chief executive Sifiso Made to Kazembe’s offices where they formally introduced De Villiers to the minister.
De Villiers will only have his first competitive game with the Sables on June 16, when Zimbabwe receive Morocco in their Africa Gold Cup opening assignment, but the 60-year-old veteran has wasted no time getting down to business.
Just a day after being unveiled as national coach, De Villiers held some coaching sessions with two of schools’ rugby giants, Churchill Bulldogs in the morning and the Prince Edward Tigers in the afternoon. Yesterday, De Villiers got his first chance to meet with the country’s Minster of Sport during which he also presented Kazembe with a rugby ball before flying out to South Africa in the afternoon. Kazembe said he was happy with the pace at which stability was returning to the ZRU after a lengthy period of turbulence.
“What the ZRU have done is something commendable and I think it is something that other associations need to earn from. They have shown that if you intend to become one of the best, you have to bring one of the best coaches and Peter De Villiers is one of the best coaches in this game.
“This shows that there is sound administration and for De Villiers to agree to come and take the job here is a vote confidence in the administration. I am sure being a top coach, he did his homework on ZRU and saw that there was a sound administration he could work with,’’ Kazembe said.
The ZRU, riding on a crest amid reports that corporates have been lining up to strike partnership deals with them, will next Wednesday unveil the sponsors for the national league that has been in limbo for years.
Delta Beverages, through the Lion Lager brand, were the last title sponsors of the national league before the brewing giants pulled out in 2013 and the following year, the fixtures were stopped midway through the season.
Jani had earlier indicated that they had, since coming on board, given priority to the Sables, given the short space of time before the flagship team begin their World Cup qualifiers.
Now after securing the signature of De Villiers and that of former Zimbabwe captain Brendon Dawson, who comes in as assistant, the ZRU have set their sights on reviving the national game’s elite league. Kazembe, flanked by permanent secretary Prince Mupazviriwo, also revealed his ministry would soon announce some changes to the Sport and Recreation Commission board.
The Sports Commission have operated without a substantive director-general for nearly two years, with long-serving administrator Joseph Muchechetere operating in an acting capacity since Charles Nhemachena’s departure from the supreme sports body.
“We are working to try and ensure that everything gets back to order at the SRC and it will not be long before everything is put in place, including a director-general and board. It is not just the SRC board that we are looking at ,but other boards as well,’’ Kazembe said.
The minister also expressed satisfaction with the ground his ministry had covered in meeting the 100-day performance targets that Government had set for them.
“Our 100-day programme has already started and we are putting in a number of things, including community clubs, refurnishing country clubs that are not being used in some provinces and turning them into multi-purpose sports clubs.
“We have noted that in the past, all the emphasis was just being put on the senior national teams, without addressing the issues of development and laying the right platform for those teams to excel and we have gone to even schools to see how best we can change the way we do things,’’ Kazembe said.