Zimbabwe’s U19 Boys B side has just won gold at the South African Schools Water Polo Championships, holding off hosts Western Province C in a tense 5-4 victory in the final today (14 December 2015) in Cape Town.
Western Province got on the board first, converting a well-worked attack in the first quarter. A determined Zimbabwe reverted by opening their goals account through Jarryd Brown to leave scores level at 1-1 going into the first break. Goals from Christopher Tomlinson and Ryan Mitchell in the second passage of play helped Zimbabwe pull away from their opponents.
Trailing 1-3 heading into the third quarter, Western Province came back with renewed energy, keeping Zimbabwe goalless. Goalkeeper Luke Lister was also formidable in keeping Zimbabwe’s goal safe.
In the last quarter, Zimbabwe was leading 3-1. It looked like it was all wrapped up, but a determined Western Province side were not letting up. With a depleted bench, Zimbabwe were on the verge either of caving in or of making history. The breakthrough came from another Mitchell goal which Western Province had a reply for to update the scoreboard 4-2 to Zimbabwe. With just three minutes to play, Mitchell scored his third of the day and it was now up to Zimbabwe to manage the clock like masters to keep hold of the lead.
A late goal in the last-minute brought Western Province to 4-5 and gave them hope for a comeback. Zimbabwe stayed strong and ran down the clock to claim gold with a 5-4 victory.
The U19 B boys stunned their opponents all weekend playing with a team of 10 instead of the usual 13. With a smaller team, the boys had no choice but to use fitness, determination and endurance to play full games. Skipper, Brown gave all credit to his boys for putting in the hard yards before tour as well as to Coach Greg Michelson for his expert guidance.
Asked about the black armbands they wore in the final Brown responded simply yet profoundly: “It was for Scotty; we have done it for Scotty Heathcote.”