Daily News sports awards

HARARE - The country’s supreme sport governing body, the Sports and Recreation Commission (SRC), this month crowned the country’s finest sportspersons of the year while different national associations and clubs have also honoured their own achievers of 2012.

Another sporting year has come to an end. Pity, it has been a dismal one for Zimbabwe.

From Brendon De Jonge and Axcil Jeffries to Denver Mukamba and Zifa, the past year in Zim sports had its share of both good guys (or girls) and bad.

We match the heroes with the villains in various sports:

Sports Star of the Year

BRENDON DE JONG


Brendon De Jonge stood head and shoulders above the rest, perhaps the only rose in a thorny year in which Zimbabwean sporting disciplines never rose to expected heights.

The United States-based golfer rightfully walked away with the Sportsperson of the Year award at the Annual National Sports Awards (Ansa) held in Harare earlier this month.

The bulky 32-year-old from Harare was recognised for his performance in 2012, where he won more than $2 million on the PGA Tour with four top-10 finishes, a remarkable run that includes three consecutive top five finishes in the month of October.
De Jonge came second in the Shrinners Children’s Open September before finishing tied for fourth place with former world number one Tiger Woods in the CIMB Classic in October.

He is currently ranked 83rd in the world.

Team of the Year

DYNAMOS FOOTBALL CLUB


By some distance the most consistent and most successfully team of the year on the Zimbabwe sporting calendar in 2012.

Their resilience to successfully retain their Castle Premiership title under stern challenge from Highlanders furnish further proof of the great character and courage of this fiercely-supported football club.

And then clinching the Mbada Diamonds Cup to seal a successive league and cup double further put the Glamour Boys in a class of their own.

The club’s substandard performance on the international stage, being humiliated 6-0 by Tunisian giants Esperance in the African Champions League and subsequently bowing out of the second tier Confederation Cup was a marked disfigurement on their season, but to dust themselves off and sweep all before them on the domestic front the way they did, is the mark of true champions.

Coach of the Year

CALISTO PASUWA


Modest and unassuming, Calisto Pasuwa has proved himself as one of the finest young coaches of his era, a great man-motivator and shrewd tactician.

He might have presided helplessly over the biggest continental defeat in the history of Dynamos, but Pasuwa has sealed his place in the hearts of Dynamos fans by guiding the Glamour Boys to a second consecutive league and cup double.

That 6-0 annihilation away to Tunisian giants Esperance back in June — coupled with the subsequent elimination from the second-tier Confederation Cup at the hands of Angolan outfit Interclube — almost cost Pasuwa his job only for executive committee chairman Kenny Mubaiwa to come to his rescue at a volatile time when figurative axes were being sharpened by influential forces in the club who never believed in the coach.

Credit to him, Pasuwa did not let his detractors deter him, shepherding his players to a late onslaught in the second half of the season as DeMbare turned on the power to wrap-up the Castle Premiership title and the Mbada Diamonds Cup in style.
 
Comeback of the Year

HIGHLANDERS FOOTBALL CLUB


For a team of Highlanders’ calibre and history, second best is never good enough.

One, therefore, can fully understand the hurt and disappointment in the Bosso family after losing the Zimbabwean football league title, more so that the victors were their greatest enemy Dynamos.  

But put into context, Bosso’ resurgence this past season to fall so agonisingly short of the title, following six years of turmoil at Emagumeni, is some kind of achievement in itself.

Disappointment can build character, and Bosso should come back next season with a vengeance.

Contest of the Year

DENVER MUKAMBA/MASIMBA MAMBARE


Both were driving forces for their respective clubs, but one cannot have anticipated the wave of bitter debate these two generated throughout the nation at the end of the season.
 
Unfortunately, the debate on which of the two deserved to be crowned the country’s finest footballer turned nasty, with regional connotations determining which corner one fought on.

In the end, Dynamos ace Mukamba deservingly walked away with the crown.

Two weeks before the Soccer Stars banquet, the Highfield-bred magician was named Dynamos’ Player of the Year, the first of two thoroughly deserved accolades for a player who dominated the season with one splendid performance after another and was the leading light in the Glamour Boys’ successful defence on their league and cup double.

Mambare is a very good player, and if he maintains his cool, the former Motor Action man has potential to become the best in the country in seasons to come.

Lifetime Achievement Award

THE TSIMBA BROTHERS


“A prophet has no honour in his own country” is an age old adage, but one that rings true in every sense to the Tsimba brothers, Richard and Kennedy.

It’s a pity few people in Zimbabwe appreciate the greatness of the Harare-born brothers, who this year became the first black men to be inducted into the International Rugby Board (IRB) Hall of Fame.

This wonderful achievement is undoubtedly a befitting honour for two of the finest sportsmen this country has ever produced, two greats whose exploits certainly compare favourably with such Zimbabwean sporting heroes of the modern era like Peter Ndlovu, Andy Flower and Kirsty Coventry.

Richard — who died 12 years ago in a car accident aged only 34 — was the first black rugby player to represent Zimbabwe at international level while his living younger brother, Kennedy, would years later become the first black man to captain his country.

Rookie of the Year

AXCIL JEFFERIES


Axcil Jefferies may have failed to win recognition in his home country following his exclusion from the Ansa awards, but his performance in 2012 speaks volumes of his quality.

The year saw the Harare-born Jefferies becoming the second African and only Zimbabwean racer to compete in the FIA Formula Two Championship.

He went on to finish 12th on the overall FIA Formula Two championship standings in his debut season even after he had missed four rounds.

The England-based teen is now eyeing a top three finish to stand a chance of qualifying for the coveted Formula One.

Spirit of Sports Awards

KIRSTY COVENTRY


At the ripe age of 29, perhaps we expected a little too much of her. Perhaps it was time someone else removes the burden off her shoulders and start winning Olympic medals for the country.  

Not many people expected the iconic Zimbabwean swimmer Kirsty Coventry to compete in the London Olympics given the events that characterised her preparation for the Games.

A dislocated knee-cap and a bout of pneumonia in the build-up to the Games meant London was always going to be an uphill task.

And at 29, battling against the likes of 17-year-old Missy Franklin of the United States, a new generation altogether, Coventry needed something special to emerge triumphant.

To her credit, the former Olympic champion and world record holder defied the odds and came sixth in the final of her trademark event, backstroke.

She might have been past her peak, but her participation represented an important component of the Olympic Spirit, competing.

“I have accomplished something greater — overcoming obstacles continuously thrown in my path,” she said after the Games.

All-round Sportsperson of the Year

LUKE MASASIRE


While a lot of people spend many years trying to identify their sporting talent, for Masasire, the question has always been about which one to pursue.

This year saw the former Prince Edward School rugby captain showing his prowess in two distinctive sports at national level.

The flyhalf had an impressive South African schoolboy season in which his kicking exploits helped Durban-based Dale College to a credible 9th place finish in the South Africa School’s League.

It came as no surprise when the ex-Tigers skipper was called up to the Zimbabwe Under-19 side for the Confederation of African Rugby (Car) youth championship in Harare.

And when he wasn’t showing his exploits with the kicking tee, he was playing the gentlemen’s game for Zimbabwe.

Masasire was good enough to represent Zimbabwe at the ICC Under-19 World Cup in August. Before the World Cup, the opening batsman had emerged as the team’s leading run-scorer on a warm-up tour of South Africa.

Most Promising Sportsperson of the Year

SEAN CROCKER


Fifteen-year-old Sean Crocker had a year to remember, winning rave reviews for his exploits on the greens.

The United States-based youngster was outstanding on the American Junior Golf Association (AJGA) circuit, finishing in the top 20 in all the six AJGA starting this season.

He finished a remarkable 16th out of 200 participants from 70 countries at the Junior World Golf Championships in California in July.

It was only befitting that the Bulawayo-born prodigy, son of former Zimbabwe Test cricketer Gary Crocker, was named among 15 Southern California junior golfers in the prestigious Rolex Junior All-Americans by the American Junior Golf Association.

Sponsor of the Year

MBADA DIAMONDS


Bankrollers of the country’s richest football tournament, the million dollar Mbada Diamonds Cup, the diamond company demonstrated it was a true friend of Zimbabwean football when it donated $200 000 as part of a fundraising campaign for the Warriors’ decisive African Nations Cup qualifier away to Angola.

Mbada added to that by chartering the flight that took the team to Luanda, where gloomily, disaster struck when Angola beat them 2-0 to seal their passage to Afcon 2013 at the expense of the Warriors.

Heartbreak of the Year

NGONIDZASHE MAKUSHA


Any athlete will tell you that it is the ultimate honour to represent one’s country at the Olympics.

It is therefore a cause of great anguish and distress to be forced to miss the Games through injury, especially if you are a genuine medal hopeful.

Ngonidzashe Makusha — one of Zimbabwe’s brightest medal prospects at this year’s London Olympic Games — was ruled out of the world’s biggest sporting showcase through injury. Long jumper and sprinter Makusha ruptured his Achilles tendon during training at his base in Florida, United States.

Losers of the Year

THE WARRIORS


What more can one say about this disgraceful group of footballers!

The wave of anguish that swept across the football-crazy nation after their devastating failure to qualify for next year’s African Nations Cup finals in South Africa summed up the magnitude of disappointment inflicted on the team’s multitude of followers.

Having carried a two goal cushion to the second leg in Angola, that capitulation in the opening seven minutes of the game in Luanda was like watching a horror movie.

With the 2013 Afcon glowing beneath the South African sun in a few weeks time, just across the boarder, Zimbabweans at home and in Mzansi were preparing for one big part, but the Warriors chose to spoil it.

Anti-climax of the Year

ZIMBABWE CRICKET TEAM


Having returned to the Test arena in August last year with a historic win over Bangladesh before acquitting themselves well in home series against Pakistan and New Zealand albeit in a losing cause, so much was expected from the Zimbabwe cricket team in 2012.

They were soon back to their worst after the New Zealanders played host and pummelled them with a tour whitewash across all three formats in January.

An unofficial Twenty20 tri-series victory over South Africa and Bangladesh in June offered a ray of hope, which was well and emphatically dashed during the ICC World Twenty20 in Sri Lanka in September as their opponents romped to easy wins over the boys in red.

Bungler of the Year

Zifa


The country’s football governing body, for all its efforts, makes it very difficult for anyone to defend them.

The Asiagate match-fixing probe was a noble mission, a cleansing exercise that even had the backing of international ruling body Fifa.

But the federation must take full responsibility of the national team’s failure, and to his credit, Zifa president Cuthbert Dube had the humility of taking the blame.

The general management of the 2013 African Nations Cup qualification campaign by Zifa was shambolic; preparations were shoddy and there was just no clear vision.  

The failure to fulfil two away youth international assignments, which is set to be met with Caf severe punishment, was also a highlight of the association’s cataclysm.

Villain of the Year

RAHMAN GUMBO


Fired by FC Platinum and given a soft-landing by Zifa, who chose to dignify his exit by giving him time to “resign” instead of sacking him, Gumbo, once again, was a total disaster as Zimbabwe national football team coach.

His tactical flaws were very glaring.

His lack of astuteness and flexibility in the cauldron of the November 11 Stadium in Luanda in October was truly shocking and appalling.

In team manager, Nyika Chifamba was equally blameworthy and seemed not to know what he was doing, personalising the people’s team as if they were the only ones with a smidgen of concern for a team which unites all of us from different backgrounds. - Enock Muchinjo and Farai machamire

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