Massive boost for table soccer

Sports Reporter

THE Zimbabwe national table soccer team’s preparations for the upcoming regional tournaments were boosted yesterday after the association clinched a sponsorship deal with Better Brands. 

Table soccer, or foosball, which is popularly known as slug is now being played professionally following the establishment of the Zimbabwe Table Soccer Association (ZTSA) by Coxwell Chigwanha in 2019. 

The country’s top five players Douglas Matambanashe, Richard Choto, Luka Ngwarati, Noel Justin, and Sonny Sivare are expected to represent Zimbabwe in regional tournaments set for South Africa, Zambia, and Uganda in March.

Prophet, Emmanuel Makandiwa, is also ranked amongst the top 10 players in the country. 

Professional table soccer is mainly vibrant in Harare’s suburbs of Mbare, Budiriro, and Mabvuku-Tafara but several top players are drawn from as far as Beitbridge. 

Yesterday, the ZTSA got a shot in the arm when Better Brands director, Scott Sakupwanya announced that he will fund provincial tournaments as well as the national team. 

“From now onwards, the winner of a foosball or slug tournament will pocket US$2,000,” said Sakupwanya, at a tournament held in Tafara. 

The tournament featured the country’s top 20 players, including the number-one ranked Matambanashe, who also hails from the Mabvuku-Tafara constituency. 

“Foosball is a very good project that was started by my brother Chigwanha, it’s good to have such because we have a policy as a country to give opportunities to all, as espoused in President Mnangagwa’s Vision 2030. 

“Some play football, some are good at rugby while others are very good at basketball but table soccer or slug was sort of lagging. It’s a sport that people have looked down upon. 

“But it’s a sport that is now recognised in the world and I am happy to be part of it,” added Sakupwanya, who also pledged to buy 50 tables. 

ZTSA president Chigwanha says the sport is capable of employing thousands of people. 

“We would like to thank our corporate sponsor Better Brands and we are also appealing for more corporates to come forward,” he said. 

“The sport was dying because of lack of publicity but it’s slowly getting back into the limelight. 

“Foosball or slug as it is popularly known, has been played in Zimbabwe for many years but back then people played it as a leisure sport. 

“But, through the exposure I got from travelling to countries like the United States and China, I realised foosball is a thriving professional sport. 

“All the good players across the country should come forward and play in tournaments. Foosball is now a form of employment; you can win a lot of money.” 

Matambanashe received US$1,000 cash from Sakupwanya who also promised to buy the Zimbabwean foosball champion a car. 

“This sport is rising, we never thought professional table soccer would be as popular as it has become in recent years.

“When we started in the 1990s, it was not professional but since 2019 we have seen a major transformation. 

“Now we are preparing for regional tournaments in Zambia, South Africa, and Uganda. 

“We will practice a lot ahead of the tournaments. The good thing is that we now have sponsors like Better Brands, this will also improve competition because of the huge prize money.”

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