“Holding a Cricket Tournament Showing Confidence in Zim”
Mehluli Sibanda Bulawayo Bureau
PRESIDENT Mnangagwa says the country has the privilege of hosting the International Cricket Council (ICC) Twenty20 World Cup Qualifier B, a tournament that starts today at two venues in Bulawayo.
Eight teams compete at Queens Sports Club and Bulawayo Athletic Club starting today, with a champion crowned at the end of the tournament on Sunday. Zimbabwe is joined by Jersey, Hong Kong, the Netherlands, Singapore, Papua New Guinea, the United States of America and Uganda. The top two teams will qualify for the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup to be held in Australia later this year.
Speaking to tournament players and officials yesterday at Queens Sports Club, President Mnangagwa said Zimbabwe felt blessed to host an event of such international importance.
“As Zimbabwe, we consider it a privilege to host a tournament of such magnitude and global importance here in the city of Bulawayo, our second largest city. We are very honored that the International Cricket Council has once again given us the opportunity to host such an important event,” he said.
It is the fifth ICC tournament the country is hosting in six years, the largest of which is the 2018 ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier. The President said this shows the ICC’s confidence in the country’s favorable atmosphere, which enables it to host such events effectively.
“This is the fifth ICC tournament that we have hosted in the last six years. Others included the Africa women’s regional competitions as well as the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup Qualifier in 2018 and most recently the ICC Women’s World Cup Qualifier held in its inaugural year. This demonstrates the confidence that the International Cricket Council has in Zimbabwe’s enabling environment to enable the successful hosting of such important events,” said President Mnangagwa.
“To that end, I would like to commend the leadership of ZC and other sporting stakeholders and partners, both local and international, who have supported our journey as a cricket-playing nation even through difficult years. The fact that eight teams participating in this tournament – Hong Kong, Jersey, the Netherlands, Papua New Guinea, Singapore, Uganda, the United States of America and of course Zimbabwe – are from different continents will add to the diversity and jamboree atmosphere raise to this sporting duel.”
President Mnangagwa said the coming of teams from around the world is a confirmation that sport plays an important role in bringing people together.
“Sport plays a very important role in uniting people from different backgrounds and speaks to us all in a language we all understand. You speak different languages where you are, but you all understand cricket slang. Although the stakes are extremely high as the winners will take the two remaining spots at the 2022 ICC Men’s T20 World Cup to be held in Australia later this year I trust you all are enjoying the event and playing fair and the big one Sportsmanship that cricket is known for. As you will discover over the next few days, cricket is more than just a game in our country, it is an ongoing fashion among our young and adult fans alike,” said President Mnangagwa.
When Zimbabwe hosted the 2018 ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier, thousands of fans flocked to Queens Sports Club and Harare Sports Club to support the Zimbabwean team. Based on this experience, the President assured the participating teams a festive atmosphere during this tournament.
“Some may recall that the last time our nation had the privilege of hosting a tournament of this magnitude, thousands of fans filled our stadiums singing and dancing, chanting and clapping without letting it stop them, even if it was rained. With that in mind, you are sure to have a very lively crowd in our unique Zimbabwean carnival atmosphere.”
To ensure local athletes are provided with an enabling environment in which to thrive, President Mnangagwa stressed that his government is developing policies to encourage full participation by all formerly excluded communities.
“The Government of Zimbabwe is committed to creating an environment that allows athletes across disciplines to thrive and achieve their full potential. In doing so, we are determined to leave no one or place behind in our communities.
“Currently, my government is formulating sports and recreation policies aimed at promoting the inclusive participation of previously marginalized communities in our country. This aims to transform our sports sector into an inclusive and viable industry,” said President Mnangagwa.
He said he hopes that in the future ICC will continue to strengthen ties with ZC in the form of far-reaching collaborations and actions.
“For the future, I hope that the ICC will increase its collaboration with Zimbabwe Cricket through broader synergies and support. Hosting the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup Qualifier B 2022 is indeed a sign of confidence and support for the strides Zimbabwe is making towards the development of cricket, not just in our country but across the African continent at large. Let me take this opportunity to express my appreciation for Zimbabwe’s nomination to co-host the 2027 ICC Men’s World Cup with our neighbors South Africa and Namibia. As a government, we stand well equipped with pads, gloves and helmets to do our part to ensure the success of this event in 2027,” said the President.
The official opening ceremony was attended by Minister of Defense and war veteran Oppah Muchinguri Kashiri; Minister for Youth, Sport, Arts and Leisure, Kirsty Coventry; their Deputy Tino Machakaire, Minister of State for Provincial Affairs and Devolution in Bulawayo, Judith Ncube, Deputy Chief Secretary for the Social Service Sector Paul Damasane, Deputy Minister for Industry and Trade Raj Modi, Chairman of Zimbabwe Cricket, Tavengwa Mukuhlani, the Executive Director of the organization, Givemore Makoni , Director of Sport and Recreation at the Ministry of Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation Eugenia Chidakwa and ICC Tournament Director Gurjit Singh among other officials.
All participating teams were also present at the ceremony which now paves the way for today’s start of the games.