By Sheldon Hakata
THERE is no story that aptly captures the essence and thrust of delivering to the needy as that of the Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA) Charities.
This story was made beautiful by an exciting final pitting giants Dynamos and Highlanders at the National Sports Stadium on Sunday.
It was a match made in heaven; an exhibition of exhilarating football that was last witnessed years ago.
On Sunday, two great events took place.
First was the continued growth of the ZNA Charities Tournament.
The second; new stars of the future were born.
Conceived in 2013, the programme generates revenue from soccer tournaments among other initiatives and proceeds from matches are channelled towards supporting members of the army who are no longer able to fend for themselves and their dependents.
The ZNA has five charitable organisations, namely Tsanga Lodge Convalescent Centre, Army Widows and Orphans Benevolent Fund, ZNA Benevolent Fund, ZNA Schools Welfare Trust as well as the ZNA Patients Welfare Fund.
It has grown in leaps and bounds with CAPS United becoming the first to lift the coveted trophy in 2013 after beating Black Rhinos by two goals to nil.
The following year 2014, FC Platinum humiliated the defending champions (CAPS United) by hammering them 6-1.
Dynamos and Highlanders met for the first time in the history of the tournament in the third edition of the Commander ZNA Charities Shield final on August 2 2015 at Rufaro Stadium.
To reach the final DeMbare beat arch-rivals CAPS United 2-1, while Bosso beat How Mine by a similar score-line.
Highlanders won the final 1-0 to lift the trophy.
That was the year that DeMbare’s dominance over Highlanders ended.
Highlanders gallantly defended the 2016 ZNA Commander Charities Shield in penalties over a determined Harare City in a final at Barbourfields.
Following a nil-all stalemate after regulation time, the two teams went into the dreaded penalty lottery in which Bosso prevailed 4-2.
Harare City had two spot kicks saved by the Highlanders third choice goalkeeper Prosper Matutu.
The outstanding goalie was also responsible for the match going into the shootout.
In 2017, the match ended nil-all in regulation time although, with a bit of luck, CAPS could have buried the match in the 64th minute when a Leonard Tsipa spot kick was saved by Prosper Matutu in goals for Highlanders.
The match had to be decided by a penalty lottery.
CAPS United won 3-2 on penalties.
It seems every season comes with its share of excitement coated in optimism for soccer fans who do not waste time in coining new phrases for their football heroes.
Highlanders fans now call their team ECD (Early Childhood Development) in reference to the number of youngsters plucked from the developmental side.
Dynamos young team has been nicknamed ‘Kidznet’, rekindling memories of the team set up by Moses Chunga at one time at the club.
Both sets of youngsters displayed some fantastic brand of football which has earned them names and a new history.
It is in these matches that heroes and villains are made.
When it comes to matches of this magnitude, it would be more than just a match.
Sunday’s ZNA Charities Shield Cup final between Dynamos and Highlanders had very little charity on the field of play.
It was a battle of giants who have fiercely contested for supremacy.
The kick-off was 3pm and the cheapest ticket was going for US$3, US$5 VIP with VVIP pegged at US$10.
However, the afternoon was punctuated by incessant rains especially in the first half, threatening to disturb the flow of the passing game that both teams offered.
It was really worth more than the US$ 15 000 prize money that the winners DeMbare walked away with at the giant National Sports Stadium.
A youthful Highlanders side dispatched Chicken Inn 2-1 in the semi-final which was a two-day match.
The match was stopped in the 55th minute due to a heavy downpour with the Gamecocks leading 1-0 courtesy of a Clemence Matawu strike.
The last 35 minutes were played the following day and Bosso’s kids sensationally overturned the deficit through goals from Adrian Silla and Peter Muduwa.
In Harare, Lloyd Mutasa’s ‘Kidznet’ side beat CAPS United 1-0.
DeMbare’s 19 year-old Kudzanai ‘KD’ Dhemere announced his arrival in grand style as he scored the all-important goal that stunned the Green Machine out of the tournament.
Lloyd Mutasa had the last laugh after edging Madinda Ndlovu’s side in this exciting cup final
However, the bigger picture for both Dynamos and Highlanders is bringing back the glory days to the country’s two oldest clubs.
Their main focus is on building teams that will compete for the league.
Though in a pre-season mode, coaches from both teams are still trying to come up with teams for 2018.
With the tournament having provided the platform for new stars to be born, it is hoped that its continued growth will result in more teams being roped in in future.