Rising Stars Academy youngsters have remained upbeat despite being let down by Zimbabwe Cricket, after the association failed to sponsor their scheduled 2018 UK tour.
By Carlo Chikomba
After having been devastated by the last minute announcement from ZC that they will not be able to travel to the UK this year because of financial restraints, the Rising Stars academy players have taken it upon themselves to raise those funds on their own.
The Rising Stars Academy, was founded by former Chevrons captain Tatenda Taibu in an effort to groom young and upcoming cricketers and prepare them for professional cricket.
Last year, the Academy initiated a program that would see a selected crop of the youngsters travel to England to play a series of matches with county clubs in the European country with the aim of further developing their game.
The players were supposed to travel on the 5th of May this year but alas, at the last minute, the Zimbabwe Cricket (ZC) board pulled the plug on the tour, as they claimed they were not able to finance the players’ travel expenses which amounted to $150 000.
ZC is currently facing a financial crisis, with the senior national team cricket players threatening to boycott the upcoming tri-nations tournament with Australia and Pakistan over outstanding salaries.
But that hasn’t seemed to deter the youngsters who have gone on an aggressive drive to woo sponsors with the hope of still being able to make the trip.
Speaking to SportBrief, Nyashadzashe Nyasha, one of the youngsters revealed that they had already begun making plans to raise funds for the trip.
“We went to Steward Bank on 15 May and held meetings with them and they agreed to be our financial advisor. We secured a merchant code for donations which is 209123. We still hope to travel to the UK on 14 June if all goes well.”
“We also plan on having a fun run and also a 6-aside cricket tournament where we will be inviting some professional cricket players as well as the CBZ cricket team to come in, have some fun and donate towards this cause.”
Carl Mumba, who was one of the players that toured the UK last year, spoke of how the tour had been beneficial to him.
“We were able to gain some much needed exposure and as we played with professional sides that are playing high level club cricket, we managed to improve certain aspects of our game,” he said.
“There is a big difference in terms of the setup, here (in Zimbabwe) there are only five teams in the top league and so we only play 16 games in a whole season. But while we were in the UK for just six months, we played well over 50 games. That level of intensity and competitiveness made us better cricketers.”
Mumba also pointed to the fact that after their tour, he was selected as part of the team that performed admirably well against West Indies late last year.
The Rising Stars manager, Alec Gezi, emphasized the role that the academy plays in grooming the youngsters and preparing them for professional cricket.
“If you look at the state of cricket in the country, there are no Cricket academies. These youngsters, when they come from high schools where they will have been playing cricket, they realize they can’t continue doing so in tertiary institutions because there are no sports universities in the country.”
“Hence, during that period, from 18-22 years, these youngsters are unable to play competitive cricket. When they finish their education, it will be now very difficult to play professional cricket more so with there being only four provincial cricket teams in Zimbabwe.”
“In the end, our talented youngsters fail to make it in the world of cricket.”