Sugar giants Tongaat Hulett and one of the country’s leading Internet service providers, ZOL Zimbabwe, have handed the national hockey teams a timely boost, putting together a combined kit sponsorship deal worth $6 500 ahead of the African Olympic qualifiers set for South Africa this week. By Munyaradzi Madzokere
The presentations were done at two venues, with the men’s team kit at Khumalo Hockey Stadium in Bulawayo while the ladies kit handed over to the team in Harare at Arundel Village.
Both teams are set to participate at the Hockey Africa Cup of Nations, which acts as the 2016 Rio Olympics qualifiers, slated for October 23 to November 1.
After trooping into camp in Bulawayo yesterday, the men’s hockey team departs for South Africa by road tomorrow, as the women leave on Tuesday morning by air.
“We are struggling financially, but we are definitely travelling to South Africa for the African Hockey Championships. We are also grateful to Tongaat Hulett and ZOL Zimbabwe for helping clothe our teams,” Hockey Association of Zimbabwe (HAZ) president Humphrey Chigwedere said.
He revealed the kit sponsorship was sourced by the former HAZ president, Mark Manolios when he was the president of the national association.
According to Chigwedere, both teams were set to arrive and link up in Johannesburg on Tuesday morning before heading for their first training sessions at the tournament venue, Randburg Hockey Stadium.
Eleven men’s teams, as well as nine women’s sides will concurrently battle it out for top accolades, with the winners from both tournaments automatically qualifying for the Rio Games.
Chigwedere was cautious about the Zimbabwe teams’ chances of grabbing the tickets to the biggest global sporting event.
“Look, there will be a lot of countries also competing with us, but all I can say is that we have a chance as well by virtue of being there and we are going to do our best,” he said.