Reliving Lady Chevrons’ golden moment

31 Mar, 2024 - 00:03 0 Views
Reliving Lady  Chevrons’ golden moment

The Sunday Mail

Sports Reporter

WHEN the women’s cricket team sensationally overcame rivals South Africa to claim gold in the African Games final that had to be decided via a super over, their triumph reverberated beyond the crease at the Achimota Cricket Club in Accra, Ghana.

It was a statement win that not only gave Team Zimbabwe their second gold medal at the quadrennial continental sports showcase, but also underscored the pedigree of the country’s athletes.

Sports and Recreation Commission (SRC) chairperson Gerald Mlotshwa, who got hooked onto the game and risked missing his flight departing from Accra for Harare on that day, recounted how gripping the encounter was and how the Lady Chevrons had won the hearts of new supporters along the way.

One of those new supporters is Zimbabwe’s Ambassador to Ghana, Kufa Chinoza.

“I would like to acknowledge our Ambassador to Ghana; he was virtually at every game, particularly the cricket games, and by the time the Lady Chevrons had gold, he knew the game in and out, having not known what cricket was all about,” said Mlotshwa.

“I would like to extend my appreciation to the support that we got, in particular from the ambassador.”

Mlotshwa applauded the athletes who represented the country at the Games and felt they had justified the call for more financial and material support for sport across all disciplines. He shared excerpts of the conversation he had via WhatsApp with some Government authorities soon after the Lady Chevrons became the first team sport to win gold at the Accra Games.

In that conversation, he expressed his wish that Finance, Economic Development and Investment Promotion Minister Mthuli Ncube would have been in Accra and witnessed the nail-biting final and be persuaded to allocate more funding to sport in his future budgetary allocations.

“I just wish we could invite the Minister of Finance to these Games one day and let him witness a game like we had against South Africa and the impact of that on what it means to be Zimbabwean,” he said. “The power of sport!

“Then perhaps we can get the priority we so desperately need to support our top athletes financially. Those athletes out there literally sweat it out 100 percent for their country. Blood, sweat and tears. One landed in hospital (cyclist Rodrick Shumba). Their pride is fierce. Patriotism in its rawest and purest form.’’

Mlotshwa reckoned Team Zimbabwe’s performance was a challenge on the sports administrators to emulate the dedication and excellence exhibited by the athletes.

“We, as administrators and regulators of sport, all need to reciprocate that in a meaningful way,” he said. “And in this day and age, it’s by the timely provision of finance and logistical support. We simply must do more, collectively. I know we all want this for our athletes and for our country.’’

With Zimbabwe having batted first and posted a total of 112 runs in 20 overs, it was all down to the bowling attack of the Lady Chevrons to defend their total in 20 overs.

The match went into the 20th over, with South Africa needing six runs from six balls.

Zimbabwe captain Mary-Anne Musonda took a gamble and kept confidence in Francisca Chipare as she handed her the last over to defend the six runs in six balls.

She did that in style, claiming a wicket with the last ball of the innings to send the match into a super over.

Just like Mlotshwa, Chinoza and many who were at Achimota on that hot and humid afternoon, memories of the game are still etched in Chipare’s mind.

“Bowling the 20th over was not an easy call, but I had to bear the trust the captain and the team had in me to defend six runs in six balls,” she said. “I knew it required me to be as calm as I possibly could and it needed me to control my nerves.”

Five balls into the 20th over, Chipare had conceded five runs and now a run was all the South Africans needed to write their name in the history books of the African Games.

But Chipare struck with that last ball of the over, handing Zimbabwe a lifeline, as the game was sent into the super over.

For the second key moment of the match, Musonda handed the responsibility of bowling the super over to Chipare.

This time, Chipare struck with the first ball of the super over before conceding two runs from the next ball.

She was to end South Africa’s innings with the third ball as she struck again.

“To be honest, being asked to bowl the super over was easy for me because after I had managed to defend six runs, I grew in confidence going into the decisive over and I was confident that I would restrict them to the lowest runs as possible,” she said.

Since their win in Ghana, the Lady Chevrons have been high on confidence as they look to travel to Dubai for the global qualifiers at the end of April.

“Winning the gold medal at the African Games boosted our confidence, hence we want to carry on the momentum to the global qualifiers and make sure that we qualify for the World Cup.” Chipare said.

In the global qualifiers, Zimbabwe are in Group B with Netherlands, Ireland, the United Arab Emirates and Vanuatu.

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