BY DANIEL NHAKANISO
THE Sables technical team has come up with a number of exciting initiatives to drum up support for the senior national rugby team as they brace for a crucial phase, which will culminate in the qualifiers for the 2023 Rugby World Cup to be held in France.
The initiatives include the launch of the Sables Rugby Network, an interactive online platform meant to attract all Sables supporters around the world to sign up, support and be updated with Sables news as the team continues to build up for the World Cup qualifiers.
In addition to getting deeper insights into on-and-off field developments within the Sables camp, the fans around the world can also use the platform to take part in an auction and raffle meant to raise funds for the Sables Trust.
The Sables Trust, which was launched two years ago, is a welfare body set up to help Zimbabwe’s national side qualify for its first World Cup since 1991.
The trust has over the last two years played a key role in identifying and securing top-class Zimbabwean players scattered across the globe, availing elite training programmes, sourcing sponsorship, warm-up matches, and strengthening ties with South Africa, amongst others.
Sables team manager Jason Maritz has been spearheading the initiatives together with the national team’s new lineout coach, South African Graham Knoop, who toured Zimbabwe in 2018 as captain of Cape Town’s False Bay Rugby Club.
Maritz said the Sables Rugby Network provides an opportunity for every Zimbabwean to be involved in building the Sables to be a force to reckon with again.
“It’s a network that gives our supporters access to the Sables, behind the scenes scoops, video content, supporters’ gear, in-depth conversations with coaches and a well-documented journeys as we build up to the pinnacle of the sport — qualifying for the World Cup.
“It’s a chance for Zimbabweans to get involved with us, show us their support and be part of the journey and play a small role in whatever that might be — becoming a sponsor, buying a raffle ticket or providing us with much needed expertise on or off the field.
Maritz also revealed that a portion of the funds raised through the Sables Rugby Network would go to a charity or non-profit organisation as they seek to support the growth of grassroots rugby programmes.
“The Sables Rugby Network is also an opportunity for us to build a legacy, supporting those that are less fortunate than us at home, to help us grow the game from grassroots in Zimbabwe and take it to places it’s never been. We are developing a platform that serves the need for now and establishes a foundation for the Sables in years to come,” he said.
“We invite corporates, business owners, Zimbabweans at home and all around the world to support the auction and raffle. We want Zimbabweans to be part of this journey and play a role in getting us to the World Cup.”
The fundraising initiatives come on the back of a fruitful 2019 season, which saw Zimbabwe making their debut in the Supersport Challenge in South Africa before going on to win their first silverware in eight years after clinching the Victoria Cup
Although Zimbabwe’s hopes of participating in this year’s SuperSport Challenge and Rugby Africa were dashed due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Sables are hoping to salvage their season by touring the Netherlands later this year.
Next year Zimbabwe have a packed schedule, which includes a debut appearance in the Currie Cup First Division in South Africa, participation in the Rugby Africa Cup and end-of-year tours planned.