BY MUNYARADZI MADZOKERE
A MINUTE of silence will be observed before kick-off of the Warriors’ 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Congo Brazzaville at the National Sports Stadium this afternoon with players expected to wear black armbands in honour those who died during Cyclone Idai.
The decision comes after an emotional week in which the Zimbabwean sporting fraternity came together in numerous tributes and gestures of solidarity with people whose lives have been shattered by the tragedy.
Zifa yesterday confirmed that the Confederation of African Football (CAF) had given them the go-ahead to honour those who lost their lives.
The local football mother body also pledged to donate a dollar from each match ticket purchased towards the victims of the cyclone, heeding the rallying call by Youth, Sports, Arts and Culture minister Kirsty Coventry, who last week said local sport would join the nation in honouring the Cyclone Idai victims.
“This weekend our athletes are playing their respective sports in honour of the victims and families affected by #CycloneIdai. Come and support our athletes and stand in solidarity with everyone affected. Let’s make this weekend a win for Zimbabwe,” Coventry said on Twitter.
The response from local sportspersons, administrators and other stakeholders has been overwhelming as they went into overdrive in a bid to fundraise and give a helping hand to those affected.
Zimbabwe Cricket (ZC) donated foodstuffs and blankets with the Zimbabwe Rugby Union (ZRU) pledging to donate 5% of gate revenue from the ongoing Kwese Invitational Sevens and turning the host venue Harare Sports Club into a donation collection point.
“It is a call that us as the Zimbabwe Cricket feels demands every institution to play its part in ensuring the President’s call for assistance is fulfilled, hence our small gesture towards supporting victims of Cyclone Idai,” ZC chairman Tavengwa Mukuhlani said during a handover ceremony last week.
ZRU, on the other hand, called on the rugby fraternity to extend a helping hand to those who were affected by the cyclone.
“We are joining every Zimbabwean in the collective humanitarian efforts across all platforms to help those affected by the cyclone. During the tournament on both match days, the Machinery Exchange Stadium will be the collection point for any material donations. We appeal to everyone to join the rugby community that has through clubs and players already started various initiatives to help those affected, to bring anything that will assist those in need,” ZRU said.
The Footballers’ Union of Zimbabwe (FUZ) has also been appealing to their members and members of the public to support their initiative.
Senior national football team players such France-based Tino Kadewere, Khama Billiat as well as Wales-based defender Alec Mudimu called upon the public to support the FUZ initiative.
Captains of local clubs Edward Sadomba (Dynamos), Hardlife Zvirekwi (CAPS United) and Bruce Homora (Black Rhinos) have been in support of the cause.
Zimbabwe cricket star Craig Ervine also went a step further after donating earnings from his Player of the Tournament award in the domestic T20 competition to efforts in the support of Cyclone Idai victims.