Zimbabwe national rugby 7s team has grabbed the headlines in Hong Kong after it emerged that Hong Kong fans donated rugby boots and meals to the national team side.
The funds will also be used to cover the team’s expenses during their campaign in the World Rugby Series Qualifiers that begin on Friday.
“Zimbabwe’s not doing well economically and we’ve been struggling ever since. The big problem is getting money out of Zimbabwe,” senior player Tafadzwa Chitokwindo who in 2015 was left in despair after the team turned up at the tournament with no playing kit, told AFP.
“The (Zimbabwe rugby) union cannot buy players tickets to fly in or fly wherever they have to go. So it’s always been a challenge to get everyone in one place and to train as a team.”
Andrew Tasker, who organised the fundraising campaign and owns sportswear company Impact Prowear, said “They’re blown away by the support.”
Meanwhile, Zimbabwe rugby sevens coach Gilbert Nyamutsamba said the side had not arrived in Hong Kong “under the illusion of just winning it easily.”
“This year getting to the semi-finals would be good for us. But you never know, with a game of sevens we might find ourselves in the finals and the ball bouncing our way and winning it.”
“We are now as ready as can be,” Nyamutsamba said this morning after the side’s final session at Police Recreation Club in Hong Kong.
“We have done all that we can to prepare. This afternoon we have our last session. The spirit in camp is high. The boys are excited and I just hope that excitements can be translated onto the pitch. Our best is all we can do.”
Zimbabwe tomorrow begin their hunt for core-status at the World Rugby Sevens Series Qualifier in Hong Kong, featuring teams from each of World Rugby’s six regions, but coach Gilbert Nyamutsamba is targeting a modest semi-final finish given the wide array of difficulties the side has faced.
The winner of the qualifiers will earn promotion into next year’s Series, replacing the bottom-ranked team after completion of the season.