Petros Kausiyo Deputy Sports Editor
ZIMBABWE rugby legend Andy Ferreira has rallied the Zambezi Cheetahs to stay focused and united and use their participation at this weekend’s Africa Cup Sevens tournament to qualify for the World Cup to etch their names in the history of the country’s game.
Ferreira, a member of a rare breed of Sables who represented Zimbabwe at the 1987 and 1991 Word Cup tournaments before pioneering the Sevens game in the country, was a guest of honour last night at a farewell function staged for the Zambezi Cheetahs by brewing giants Delta Beverages ahead of their scheduled departure for Uganda early this morning.
Zimbabwe will join the rest of the African teams that are seeking to qualify for the 2018 Rugby World Cup Sevens in San Francisco, United States.
With enough World Cup experience behind him, domestic rugby could not have chosen a better man than Ferreira who also played and coached the national Sevens squad, to inspire the Cheetahs as they wound up their preparations on the home front and prepared to leave for Kampala.
Zimbabwe have been drawn in Pool B where they will face Botswana, Mauritius, Madagascar and Senegal and coach Gilbert Nyamutsamba and his 12–men side were last night brimming with confidence as they mingled with the representatives of their sponsors and other rugby stakeholders on the eve of their departure.
Ferreira said the tournament in Kampala, whose winners will be guaranteed automatic qualification for the World Cup, was a defining moment for every member of the Zambezi Cheetahs squad.
“Zimbabwe has had its share of successes, near misses and of course failures. The highlight of our nation was participating in the 1987 New Zealand and 1991 United Kingdom World Cups.
“I was privileged to participate in both and need to tell you what a truly amazing experience it is. Not only are you competing in the best rugby competition on earth but you are rubbing shoulders with the very best players making new acquaintances and most importantly making life time friends.
“So I say to Gilbert and coaching staff, manager Donald (Mangenje) and captain Hilton (Mudariki) and to you the players of our country, set your goals and standards high and under no circumstances accept anything less.
“Great moments are born from great opportunities and that gentlemen is what we have here tonight. You have seven games and I know from experience that it will take a big effort both on and off the field to stay focussed, to stay disciplined, stay with the common goal. One game a time, one victory at a time,’’ Ferreira said.
Ferreira said although the Zambezi Cheetahs would be flying the country’s flag from Friday to Saturday in Uganda, the tournament presented them with a potential game changer to their rugby careers.
“You have a chance to change your lives and some of you may only get this chance once. Do not look back with regret. Make a difference. Be someone our young rugby players can look up to and remember and emulate your successes.
“We have an awesome responsibility to ourselves our team and country. How bad do we want this? Discipline yourself and teammates will follow . . . train hard focus on game plans, eat correctly keep hydrated get enough sleep those are components for success. Do not waste this chance of a life-time. If we are going to try then let’s go all the way.
“Victory can only come about if every player in the squad puts his body on the line for every minute, 80 minutes. I am quietly confident that some of our opponents may not rate or respect us.
“Brilliant chance to be rated and respected . . . let’s stick one on them and get right up there in their faces, out-jump them, scrum them out, ruck them out, drive them out, tackle them until they are so sick of it.
“Smother them, let them lose their discipline because they are is frustrated while definitely keeping ours. Fight for every inch and I mean every inch. They add up and at the end of 80 minutes could be the difference between winning and losing,’’ Ferreira said.
Zimbabwe Rugby Union chief executive Blessing Chiutare and Zimbabwe Cheetahs chairperson Colleen de Jong paid tributes to both Delta Beverages and Ferreira for rallying behind the national sevens side and expressed confidence that Nyamutsamba and his men will bring the trophy back home on Monday.
“I would like to once again thank Delta for their sponsorship and for being key partners to rugby. I would also like to thank Andy Ferreira, a Cheetahs pioneer and former World Cup player with the Sables.
“The players can’t get have any better inspiration than Andy Ferreira and I know they are going to carry the Zimbabwe flag high and bring pride to the brand Zambezi. I believe they have worked hard for it and they will represent the country well,’’ Chiutare said.
De Jong also chipped in and said she was convinced that the Cheetahs were ready to rumble in Kampala.