THE Cottco Schools Rugby Festival which ends tomorrow at Prince Edward School has again set another benchmark for the nurturing and showcasing of sports talent in Zimbabwe.
For yet another year, watching the raw talent at the cou
ntry’s disposal in the tournament has left many far-sighted spectators not only marveling at the level of talent on display, but also feeling a sense of sadness at the prospects of the future of the kids battling for supremacy on two adjacent fields at PE.
Where will all that talent end up? Can Zimbabwe continue to serve as breeding ground for other countries?
For those players who do not go abroad after leaving school, they move from one season of playing school rugby in front of large and adoring crowds, innovative war cries, excellent coaching, excellent support bases to the next stage in the mire of Zimbabwean club rugby where structures have collapsed.
What has to be done by the stakeholders in Zimbabwean rugby is to make sure that the gains of the schools festival do not go to waste. This has been mentioned excitedly a lot of times by administrators and needless to say, it has come to nothing.
There is need to set up schools of excellence where the budding talent would be nurtured and developed. But that of course will only remain a pipedream if authorities responsible fail to run the sport in a way that attracts sponsorship. Is it not ironic that schoolboy rugby can attract sponsorship while the senior national team can’t?
The schools rugby structures and organisation are undoubtedly superior to those at the national level, which is a good starting point for the launch of rugby ademies. Schools can be engaged in the planning phase of the academies because of their experience in honing young talent.
Already top rugby schools are hiring the best coaches the country has to offer. This, evidently, has made a tremendous difference and improved the standards of play by the schools.
Prince Edward are coached by Godwin Murambiwa and Brighton Chivandire, both former national team coaches. St George’s have Alex Nichols, another former national coach. — Staff writer.