NOT so long ago, the University of Zimbabwe used to be a vital cog in the wheel of the sporting world in this country and beyond its borders, with its football and basketball teams being the stand out disciplines.
By Brian Nkiwane
The soccer team, which had former Warriors captain Benjani Mwaruwari in its books, did well in the unfashionable world of Division One, churning out other equally good players to local premiership clubs.
Their basketball team, Varsity Leopards, was always in good shape sending shock waves in the basketball world.
Today, all that is now history as the tertiary institution is failing to reach those dizzy heights of yesteryear, with both the soccer and basketball teams now pale shadows of their former selves.
Pro vice-chancellor business development Takaruza Munyanyiwa attributes the poor performance in sport by tertiary institutions to the economic meltdown that the country went through during the past decade.
To counter this downward spiral, the university launched its first golf scholarship programme early this month.
“As an institution that used to take the lead in sporting activities, we have discovered that we have been lagging behind for some time. Actually, the sport conveyer belt has been ending at high school level, which is not supposed to be the case. As tertiary institutions, we must be seen to be taking our role to support sportpersons reach their dreams.
“The country has been going through a bad economic patch, but things have started to shape up, so we also have to start melting as well,” said Munyanyiwa.
He added: “We have then decided to revive the sporting side by launching a golf scholarship programme in conjunction with Zimbabwe Olympic Committee (ZOC), Sports and Recreation Commission (RSC), Zimbabwe Golfers Association (ZGA) and the corporate world.”
The golf scholarship will start in 2014 with 20 students, 10 male and 10 females, are set to benefit from the project.
“Now that golf has been included as an Olympic sport, we would like to assist the nation in coming up with top golfers who would associate with the institution. We have seen most of our players getting scholarships in foreign countries, so we are saying as an institution, we must follow suit. If we produce 10 golfers of the Nick Price mould, that would mean a lot for our country. We can do it, what we need is support.”
Munyanyiwa encouraged tertiary institutions to come up with curriculums that would suit sportspersons.
“We need to re-design our school curriculum to suit our sportspersons. One thing for sure, sportspersons travel a lot fulfilling their fixtures, as well as taking part in tournaments; hence they would then need special treatment and accorded equal and enough time for their respective areas of study.”
Scholarship package unveiled
The scholarship programme which was launched last week will include accommodation, a fees, club membership fees, kits and other expenses for participation in national tournaments.
“We had a rough calculation that a student would need at least US$10 000 per year for an effective golf programme. We have decided to start with golf as a pilot project, but very soon this project is likely to spread to other sporting disciplines, depending on how it succeeds. We are fighting hard to make this institution tick again in the local and international sporting arena,” Munyanyiwa said.