NAMIBIAN parents have come together to fund a Zimbabwean schools hockey tour to Namibia later this month.
BY SPORTS REPORTER
It will be the first-ever boys Test series at schools level between the two countries and will see Zimbabwean Under-16 and Under-18 teams taking on their Namibian counterparts from November 29 to December 2.
The tour follows on the successful staging of the girls’ series between the two countries in Namibia in August, where Zimbabwe won the Under-18 test series and Namibia the Under-16 series.
Following the girls’ series, the Hockey Association of Zimbabwe was invited to send boys teams, but they did not have funds to do so.
The tour was, however, rescued by Namibian parents who came together in the interests of hockey development, according to the Namibian U18 team manager Andre van der Merwe.
“Zimbabwean hockey said they did not have the funds to send the boys teams, so the Namibian parents came together and said in order for Namibian hockey to develop, we have to start offering tournaments like this. So they undertook to pay for the Zimbabwean sides to come and play here,” he told the local media last week.
“Air Namibia has also helped with reduced air fares, while Windhoek High School will provide their astro turf free of charge as well as reduced accommodation fees in their hostel,” he added.
The Namibian parents will bear the brunt of the expenses, while they will also provide meals for all the sides for the duration of the tournament.
“The Namibian parents are showing their compassion, because irrespective of whether it’s their kids or not, they have got a real desire to see young people develop in their sport and are prepared to invest their money and to help other kids to do that,” Van der Merwe added.
He, however, said that there was still time for companies to come on board to sponsor the series.
“It will be a sport spectacle and the goal is to develop it into a Four Nation series. We want to invite South Africa, Zambia and Botswana next year and it will be a good opportunity for companies to come on board and make it their own tournament,” he said.
“We approached many companies to get involved, but unfortunately at this time of the year most companies have exhausted their funds. But there is still time and any monetary amount, it doesn’t matter how big or small, will help,” he added.
Van der Merwe said he expected a tough series.
“Zimbabwe are very strong and are keen to show that they can beat Namibia. But we have some very dedicated young men who are training hard and are motivated and excited and they want to carry the Namibian flag high.”