The Sunday Mail
The clock is ticking for Fortune Chipendo. After 17 years of competitive rugby, and on the wrong side of 30, the gangly Old Georgians’ forward admits the thought of retirement sometimes keeps him up at night.
“At 34 the body is starting to complain, competition is getting stiffer and it’s becoming harder and harder to compete. I also have a family that I would like to spend more time with,” he said.
But Chipendo has a couple of items to tick off his bucket list – World Cup qualification with the Sables and lifting the SARU Gold Cup with OGs – before hanging up his boots.
While it has been a difficult year for him, with the Sables’ sub-par performance in the Africa Gold Cup, the forward remains optimistic of achieving his goals before he reaches the finish line.
The Sables did the bare minimum to stay in the illustrious Africa Group 1A, winning just one of their five matches to remain in contention of qualifying for the World Cup. It could have been two wins, at the very least, were it not for an untimely knock-on, in the dying minutes of their crunch tie against Namibia – by Chipendo.
“It’s one of those things that happen in sport,” said Chipendo as he reflected on the 26-31 defeat. “I crossed the Namibian try line fully intent on supporting Connor Pritchard, who had gone for the try, and didn’t think the ball would pop back to me like it did.
“When I did see the ball, I reacted late and knocked it on. Such things happen in sport and I had to quickly dust myself up and prepare for the next game against Kenya.” With Chipendo’s international obligations for the season done, the former Mabvuku player is fully focused on club duty.
Old Georgians won the right to represent Zimbabwe in the SARU Gold Cup by virtue of finishing being top of the table at the half way point of the season.
OG’s are in group B alongside Raiderz, QBR, Northman Platinum Rhinos and Vaal Reefs. They start their campaign with a home tie against Raiderz on September 9. Chipendo is expected to join the rest of the Old Georgians squad this week after receiving an extended break due to his Sables duties.
“After over a decade at OG, it is my wish to help the team bring the Gold Cup home,” he said. “The boys have been playing some good rugby, in my absence, and that is always encouraging.
“Morale is high in the teams and we learnt a lot from our participation at the tournament last year. Hopefully, we can translate the form and experience into positive results.”