ZIMBABWE national cricket team fielding coach and Southern Rocks mentor Shepherd Makunura passed away yesterday after a long illness.
Makunura, 46, died at a private hospital in Harare.
He leaves a legacy of being the only coach to win four Logan Cup titles on the trot, clinching three with Mountaineers between 2017 and 19 before leading Masvingo-based side Rocks to silverware in the country’s premier domestic competition.
Yesterday Zimbabwe Cricket managing director Givemore Makoni described Makunura as an unsung hero of local cricket.
“On behalf of Zimbabwe Cricket, our deepest sympathies are with his family, colleagues and friends as they come to terms with losing such an affable and wonderful man,” Makoni said. “We have lost one of our very best coaches, an unsung hero of our game who has been instrumental in the unearthing and nurturing of many of Zimbabwe’s talented players. We are grateful for his immense contributions to the sport in Zimbabwe and beyond and the void that he has left will be hard to fill.
“Sheppy was a much-loved and humble person and his smiling face and positive attitude will be sadly missed. Our thoughts are with Sinikiwe, his family and friends at this devastatingly sad time.”
In his early coaching days, Makunura had stints in charge of the Zimbabwe Under-14s (2005-2007) and Zimbabwe Under-19s (2008-2010). He was the Zimbabwe A coach for the incoming tours by Canada and Kenya in 2018, the same year that he also took the Zimbabwe XI side to the Africa Cup tournament in South Africa.
In 2018, he joined the Zimbabwe Senior Men’s National Team technical set-up as fielding coach, a position that he was to hold until his untimely death.
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His dream was to join an exclusive list of Zimbabwean black coaches to coach the national team after Stephen Mangongo and Walter Chawaguta.
Born in Harare on October 23, 1976, Makunura started playing cricket in the late 1980s at Chengu Primary School in Highfield, earning a scholarship that took him to Prince Edward School for his secondary education.
In 1990, while in Form 1, he started his club career as one of the pioneering members of Takashinga. He made his first-class début for Mashonaland A in the 2001/02 season.
Injury cut short his playing career and he decided to turn to coaching.
Makunura is survived by his wife, Sinikiwe Mpofu, who is the Zimbabwe senior women’s national team assistant coach, and two children.