BY DANIEL NHAKANISO
IT was a bittersweet feeling for rising local cricket coach Leonard Nhamburo when the International Cricket Council (ICC) recently announced that Namibia would take Zimbabwe’s place at the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup Qualifiers to be held in Scotland from August 27 to September 7 following the latter’s suspension by the global body.
While Nhamburo was delighted at the prospect of leading the improving Namibia side in Scotland later this month, the coach also felt sorry for Zimbabwe women’s team players and coaches, having previously worked with the team for a number of years as assistant coach.
Zimbabwe was suspended by the ICC last month due to alleged government interference after the Sports and Recreation Commission (SRC) suspended the Zimbabwe Cricket (ZC) board, which was
elected in June, and replaced it with an interim committee.
The country’s suspension and subsequent omission from the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup Qualifiers paved the way for Namibia go to Scotland after they finished as runners-up to Zimbabwe at
the African qualifying tournament in Harare in May.
Nhamburo, who has been coach of the Namibia women’s side over the last six months, says while he is relishing the opportunity to showcase his ability as a coach at the global stage in
Scotland, he shares the disappointment of the local players and coaches after their heartbreak.
“Obviously on a personal level I am very happy to have the opportunity to be part of that event because it’s every cricket coach’s goal to take part in the World Cup qualifiers. The
team also is happy and they learned that whatever tournament or games you play it’s always important to play at your best and bring good results,” Nhamburo told The Sports Hub in an
interview from Namibia last week.
“However, being a Zimbabwean and having worked with the national team for many years, it is also very sad to see Zimbabwe missing out on such a big tournament as the ICC Global
qualifiers. From my own perspective, this was Zimbabwe’s best chance to qualify to the World Cup and it’s obviously sad.”
He added: “It’s one of the things that we as coaches and players cannot control and what I can just say to the girls is that they should keep on having a good year, working hard and
continue serving their country and they will reap the rewards.”
Nhamburo, who has been credited with improving the Namibia team’s performances since his appointment in February, says he is delighted with what he has achieved with the team and
attributes the success to the support he has received in that country.
“I feel honoured and humbled to be appreciated in such an manner as you can see that when we played in the qualifiers the team showed a lot of improvement. It shows that there has been
some good work that has been done with all the resources being provided. “Working under good conditions with freedom you can produce such results and as a coach I feel like I’m well
respected here and I will continue to work hard to continue improving the team’s perfomance wherever we are going to play,” he said.
Leading the Namibia side in the upcoming qualifiers will be the pinnacle of Nhamburo’s coaching career, which he started in the late 90s as a volunteer coach in Harare’s high-density
surburb of Glen View before he was employed as a development coach by ZC in 2000.
Nhamburo also served as a provincial coach at junior level coaching the Mash Eagles junior sides from the Under-11 to the Under-18 side before rising to become the franchise’s assistant
coach of the 2016 Eagles side, which completed a historic sweep of all the trophies on offer in domestic cricket.
The side, which was coached by Stanley Timoni with Nhamburo as assistant, became the first team to win the Logan Cup, Pro 50 Championship and T20 gongs in one season since the inception
of the franchise system in 2009.
In-between, the soft-spoken coach was first appointed interim coach of the Zimbabwe women’s team in 2012 before serving as assistant to three different coaches until last year when his
contract was not renewed by ZC.
Although modest about his achievements, Nhamburo beams with pride when he speaks about some of the players who he helped groom during his time as a development coach in Glen View.
“If you look at the current women’s team, I have some players who came through my hands, the likes of Modester Mupachikwa, she’s a wicketkeeper/opening batsman. I coached her in Glen
View since she was in Grade 3. I have also coached the likes of Ester Mbofana, Audrey Mazvishaya and other guys who have left such as Monalisa Chimutashu, who is now playing for the
Canada national team. “There are also a couple of young guys who are coming through just now who all came through the Glen View system,” he said.
Now as he prepares for his first big tournament as head coach of a national women’s side, Nhamburo hopes the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup Qualifiers will act as yet another stepping stone in his promising coaching career.
“I hope that this opportunity I got to go to Scotland with the Namibia team will also be another eye-opening experience in terms of my growth as a coach. I’m quite happy and looking
forward to getting involved a bit in other teams because I have seen that I have the potential to make it big. I will obviously look for other avenues for me to continue growing as a
coach,” he said.