Chinhoyi High School returned triumphant this week from South Africa where they won a softball cup at a tournament in Johannesburg last Saturday, August 16. The tournament, held annually at Springs Girls High School in Johannesburg, featured five top Gauteng Province teams as well as two winning teams representing Zimbabwe. Second place went to Springs Girls High, while the third place winners were Zimbabwean side Nemakonde, Last year Chinhoyi came second to South African side Benoni who failed to place in the top three this year.
Chinhoyi’s team, captained by Makanaka Zangroti, travelled to South Africa as a result of being crowned the champions of 26 team top school finals in Zimbabwe, held jointly in July by the National Association of Secondary School Heads (NASH) and the Zimbabwe Softball Association in July. Manicaland’s Sakubva, who came second in the same Zimbabwean national tourney, failed to raise the funds to travel as did third place winners, Harare side Roosevelt Girls. By default, fourth place side Nemakonde High, also from Chinhoyi, were given the opportunity to travel to South Africa, and fund-raised to take up the offer, placing a respectable third in the South African tourney.
Softball is a relatively unknown sport in Zimbabwe, but has been bolstered by Zimbabwean teachers who were trained in Cuba, where softball and baseball are the most popular sports and played in every school. Chinhoyi High’s Coach Chiwanza, himself trained in Cuba where he developed a passion for the game. He has worked to encourage a love of the game at his school and a seriousness for top quality softball amongst the girls.
Starting player Shantel Marekera, who is also Chinhoyi High’s head-girl, commented on the team’s experience in South Africa: “It was an eye-opening experience to meet and play with students from other schools and to learn more about the game of softball. It is a great opportunity to get to travel to new places because of sport. I would like to encourage other schools to start softball teams and encourage NASH to provide more support to the Softball Association of Zimbabwe to be able to develop the game in Zimbabwe to a higher level.”