SABLES coach Brendan Dawson has made a passionate appeal to the corporate world to back the Zimbabwe senior rugby side in their bid to qualify for the 2023 World Cup to be held in France.
BY DANIEL NHAKANISO
In a rousing speech during an event hosted by the Zimbabwe Rugby Union (ZRU) last week to put into motion concerted action by the country to return to the World Cup after three decades, Dawson vowed not only to take the Sables to France 2023, but also to leave a mark at the tournament.
The 53-year-old former Zimbabwe captain, however, argued for the corporate world and various stakeholders to support the Sables in their player-centred approach to transform local players from being amateurs to semi-professional and professional players ahead of the World Cup qualifiers.
“I can assure you that we will go to the World Cup,” declared Dawson, who was part of the last Zimbabwe side to feature at the World Cup in 1991.
“And we will compete at the World Cup. We won’t be a team that will just be playing. We will be a team that will be threatening other teams. We’ve got immense amount of talent within our country and outside our country that is dying to wear the green-and-white jersey.
“And all I ask is for all of us to go away tonight, and think about it, in the corporate world, of how we can help. From donating caps like tonight, to giving a million US dollars. It’s something. The smallest thing can go a long, long way. So I’m not asking for a massive amount of
anything. I’m asking for commitment, desire, the will to help, and whatever that can drive us to go forward,” he said.
Dawson, who is now in his second tenure as Zimbabwe’s head coach, took the Sables to the brink of 2015 World Cup qualification in addition to sharply improving the team’s world rankings during his first tenure as head coach between 2007 and 2014.
After his return for a second stint last year, he guided the Sables to the Victoria Cup title following impressive victories in the four-nation tournament which also featured Kenya, Uganda and neighbours Zambia.
Meanwhile, Adrian Garvey and Tonderai Chavhanga—both Zimbabwean-born ex-Springbok players—were the co-guests of honour at last week’s dinner which was also graced by officials from the Sports ministry, the Sports and Recreation Commission and the Sables Trust.
Garvey, who played for Zimbabwe at the 1991 World Cup in the United Kingdom alongside Dawson before going on to play in two more World Cups in 1995 and 1999 under the South African flag, weighed in to encourage the corporate world to help the Sables achieve this milestone goal of playing in the World Cup.
He recalled when the Zimbabwe Sables defeated Morocco to qualify for the 1991 World Cup and he wished that moment he shared with Dawson and the Sables class of 1991 for the current generation of Sables players.
Last week’s event coincided with the launch of the rebranded Sables logo and Sables Rugby Network, an online platform that gives local rugby fans access to the Sables, behind the scenes scoop, video content, supporters’ gear, and in-depth conversations with coaches and players.
The World Cup qualifiers will be played in July 2022.