Trust me, l have seen worse. But still, the sickening feeling you get from seeing those horrible images – an entire national squad literally lying stranded on the streets of some far-away country – doesn’t get any better even when you try evoke worst excesses that have been brought to bear on rugby players in Zimbabwe.
Sports Panorama with Enock Muchinjo
An even greater cause of anguish for me is that for years this keeps happening to, as a matter of opinion, the most patriotic national team to represent our country at international level.
Never have I seen such passion anywhere else, the unadulterated love for their sport and country, and nowhere is the national anthem sung with as much gusto as by a Sables team.
Out of the realisation that their sport can never be as financially rewarding as much as the other main sporting disciplines in this country, rugby players in Zimbabwe have got accustomed to deriving greater happiness from the pride and honour of representing their country – and doing their best for it.
All they ask for, of course, is a little bit of appreciation, a semblance of order and gratitude for their dedication to their sport – amidst the hopelessness of our country.
It leaves a very bitter taste in the mouth that things have fallen apart in this manner, after a year that had started on such a bright note, with all the positive vibes around the game and for a change, even some international headlines for Zimbabwean rugby.
Once again, rugby in Zimbabwe has probably fallen victim of its own passion.
Those who understand Zimrugby will know that the mood around it extremely sulky and the dressing-room not a very happy place after a bad result. Perhaps the moment of grim realisation we now find ourselves in, that the 2019 World Cup dream is all but over, has left everyone absolutely gutted and dumbfounded to the point of not being bothered anymore.
But you do not throw professionalism into the dustbin like that, for whatever reason.
Of course, if the Tunisians indeed deliberately mistreated our team (they’ve strongly denied it and shifted blame on Zimbabwe) upon arrival there on Monday night, delaying the squad at the airport and forcing it to sleep on the street, then there is nothing more deplorable than that and World Cup (WR) must get to the bottom of it. Zimbabwe, on the one hand, hasn’t really handled the whole thing with dignity, particularly on the player welfare side of things. For the players to air grievances publicly – some of them half-truths – should never be allowed to happen again.
As for the administration, they stand accused of not honouring their side of the bargain.
I’m not going to be quick to judge the guys at Zimbabwe Rugby Union (ZRU) but if indeed they have been responsible for any of this shameful episode, it is awfully disappointing and disheartening given the esteem with which I personally hold this administration and even though I doubt they really can get worse than the incompetent officer bearers in cricket and football. But of course, let those responsible answer for themselves and it’s an explanation the nation must demand.