LIKE IRELAND, ZIMBABWE are hoping to snap up a berth on the World Rugby Sevens Series this week in Hong Kong — but the Cheetahs have needed a little help from their friends.
Zimbabwe may be the African champions, but they have arrived for the qualifying tournament lacking basic amenities and funding from their economically collapsing country.
Hong Kong rugby fans have rallied round to fill the gap, raising money for essentials like meals and boots for the Zimbabwean players.
“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 told AFP.
“Every time we have to meet at a tournament and train together instead of meeting at home… So it’s always been a big challenge so far.”
It’s a familiar story for Zimbabwe, who turned up with no kit in 2015 and came within a heartbeat of winning the qualifying tournament, losing narrowly to Russia in the final.
“We always find a visit to Hong Kong a very interesting one and it’s always a helpful one in that we get welcomed by the Hong Kong community,” Zimbabwe coach Gilbert Nyamutsamba said.
“They do lots of charity work for us, they raise funds for us so that we can also be able to get extra kit, and a little something for the boys.”