HARARE – The tussle for the Team of the Year for this evening’s Annual National Sports Awards (Ansa) appears to be a fascinating duel between the world cup-bound Zimbabwe Sevens Rugby side and their cricket counterparts, Zimbabwe senior men cricket team.
If judgement is according to the field size then Zimbabwe cricket will be automatic winners by virtue of the sport being played by 11 infield players as opposed to Sevens rugby which by its name is played by seven players.
But that will not be this case this evening as the panel of judges will be looking at the achievements garnered during the period under review. For starters the rugby side has shone beyond any reasonable doubt amid a lot of cloud and confusion surrounding their leadership as they went about their campaign in the absence of the Zimbabwe Rugby Union board that was suspended for putting the game into disrepute in August.
Only the chief executive was at hand to provide some form of direction in the absence of the suspended board. The Zambezi Cheetahs made it into the final of the Rugby Africa Sevens tournament final in Kampala, Uganda losing 10-7 to hosts in the final but it was enough to take them to next year’s World Cup to be held in San Francisco in the United States.
In addition to that the Gilbert Nyamutsamba coached side also booked themselves a ticket to participate at the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series core status qualifier at the 2018 Hong Kong Sevens.
The Cheetahs build-up to the bigger occasion saw them finishing second in the Lusaka Sevens tournament in Zambia before they went a gear up by winning the Maseru Sevens.
Zimbabwe cricket on the other hand won their first ever One Day International in Sri Lanka against the host in July claiming the match by six wickets as they chased down 316 runs, the highest chase ever to be done successfully in Sri Lanka before going on to win the series also a first by a Zimbabwean team
316 runs, the highest chase ever to be done successfully in Sri Lanka before going on to win the series 2-3 also a first by a Zimbabwean team.
In October the cricket team managed a draw in the second Test against West Indies in Bulawayo, the locals’ first draw in 12 years.
The third and final team nominated in this category is the rowing pair of Kenneth Raynor and Keegan Smith who had a shot at the World Junior Championships in Trakai, Lithuania in August. The doubles sculls team both from Peterhouse Boys School found the going tough but were able to finish second in the FC Final behind hosts Lithuania.
Ironically the top contenders Gilbert Nyamutsamba, Cheetahs head coach and Zimbabwe Cricket coach Heath Streak will also have a score to settle in the coach of the Year category where they will also clash with rowing gaffer Kristine Johnson on the night.
2017 Annual National Sports Awards Nominees:
• Sportsman of the Year: Sam Muripo, Brian Chiringa (karate), Nyasha Machaza (golf)
• Sportswoman of the Year: Helen Sinclair, Selina Manuel (bodybuilding), Rutendo Nyahora (athletics)
• Sportswoman of the Year with a Disability: Margaret Bangajena, Thandiwe Ndlovu, Ratidzo Tomu (wheelchair racing)
• Sportsman of the Year with a Disability: Elford Moyo, Samson Muroyiwa (wheelchair racing), Michael Mudyanadzo (golf Special Olympics)
• Junior Sportswoman of the Year: Holly Bicknell (rowing), Emily Jones (golf), Tanyaradzwa Muzinda (motocross)
• Junior Sportsman of the Year: Chengetai Mapaya (athletics), Terrence O’Hara (swimming), Mehluli Sibanda (tennis)
• Junior Sportswoman of the Year with a Disability: Pelagia Chidhakwa (athletics IC), Elizabeth Matupe (athletics T12), Siphosami Moyo (athletics T11)
• Junior Sportsman of the Year with a Disability: Munorwa Changakungwa (athletics T46), Raymond Nyathi (athletics T11), Edmore Solomon (athletics T46)
• Team of the Year: Zimbabwe Cricket, Zimbabwe Rugby Sevens, Rowing (Kenneth Raynor and Keegan Smith)
• Coach of the Year: Heath Streak (cricket), Gilbert Nyamutsamba (rugby), Kristine Johnson (rowing)
• Technical Official of the Year: Agnes Chiroodza (netball), Annie Muchenu (basketball), Patrick Mukondiwa (boxing)