Football connects Diaspora with Zimbabwe

HARARE - A progressive football tournament dubbed the Flexi Cup Summer Festival is on in Coventry, England next weekend to showcase the abundant Zimbabwean talent in the Diaspora that the country can tap into.

The tournament  which is in its third year running is also aimed  at helping charity organisations back home as the organisers of the event seek to connect Zimbabweans in the Diaspora with the motherland.

The tournament which comes at a time when the Zimbabwe Football Association (Zifa) is making frantic efforts to tap into the talent of players born in the UK but of Zimbabwean parentage is going to be contested by eight teams from across Britain.

At the moment, versatile defender Alec Mudimu, who is based in Wales, returned to represent the Warriors at the just-ended Cosafa Cup in South Africa.

Nottingham Forrest’s defender Tendayi Darikwa has already committed his future to Zimbabwe and earned his first cap in an international friendly against Lesotho last year.

Glasgow Celtic’s forward Kundai Benyu, Leicester’s Admiral Muskwe and Macauley Bonne of Leyton Orient are some of the other UK-based players that have pledged their allegiance to Zimbabwe.    

Former Zimbabwean greats now resident in the UK such as Muzondiwa Mugadza, Maxwell Dube, and Liberty Masunda, who have been regulars at the Flexi Cup, are expected to feature in a Zim Legends side.

They will be joined other notable yesteryear greats like Memory Mucherahohwa, Chamu Musanhu, Obey Murefu, Timothy Chirozvani, Joe Mugabe and Brian Badza.

The Zim Legends team will play against Walsall Legends.

Spokesperson of the Flexi Cup Robert Hombiro says the tournament was born out of the idea to expose the talent among Zimbabweans in the UK and help Zifa widen their selection base for the national team assignments.

“Look, as the Zimbabwean community based in the UK we want to do everything we can to develop football in our country as well as help in charitable organisations back home. We might be based here but our umbilical cord is in Zimbabwe so we stay connected with our country,” Hombiro told the Daily News on Sunday.

“I am sure you have seen how countries like Senegal, Nigeria, Morocco, Tunisia and Ivory Coast have benefited from their communities in Europe in terms of football.  Alex Iwobi went through the Arsenal structures but is now playing for Nigeria, Riyadh Mahrez for Algeria having been born in France.

“So for us this is what the Flexi Cup hopes to achieve in the future. This is just the beginning and besides exposing the talent, the proceeds from the tournament are sent to help charity organizations back home.

“We want this tournament to grow with each passing year and become a premier talent show such that in the years to come Zimbabwe will grow to become a force to reckon with in the world as we would be providing the national team coaches with a wider base to choose players from.

“Also the meeting of Zimbabweans here gives us this national pride to still want to be connected with our brothers and sisters back home.”

The teams that are going to take part in the Flexi Cup include Coventry Flexi which have in their books Highlanders legend Madinda Ndlovu’s son Melo. Madinda’s younger brother Brain is also part of the team.

The Flexi Cup was founded by businessman Felix Marufu and is run by a committee that is made up of chairperson Thomas Thomik, Fifa-certified referee Justin Gapara, Gerald Mwase, Brian Ndlovu, and Wilton Chisvo.

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