ZDF fundraises for World Military Golf Championships

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By Kundai Marunya

SPORT has always had a way of unifying people because it is a sector-specific language.

Such is the power of sport that in commemoration of days of utmost importance, Zimbabweans always flock to stadia where, usually, soccer is played, uniting people from different backgrounds.

We have had our Unity Day Cup, the Independence Cup and the ZDF Challenge Cup, sometimes involving teams from neighbouring countries.

Sport’s proven power to unify people will be put to the test when Zimbabwe hosts the 15th World Military Championship in Victoria Falls come June 16-23.

Organised by the International Military Sports Council (CISM), a Brussels-based sports organisation established in 1948 with the sole purpose of finding peaceful means to conflict resolution through sport, this will be the first time the Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF) hosts a tournament of this magnitude.

ZDF was pencilled in to host the 14th edition of the tournament in 2019, but CISM was forced to postpone the games due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The 14th edition was eventually held in the US in October last year, a tournament in which Zimbabwe was a participant.

For many people, this would be viewed as close to impossible, having members of the American and Zimbabwean military competing in a social event, given the tense atmosphere fuelled by oppression and the spectre of the illegal sanctions regime visited on the country.

Unimaginable as that is, two nations who are always vocal of how they differ in ideologies, extending a moment of friendship, this has been made possible through sport.

It is the same environment ZDF aims to create as it hosts over 20 countries in Victoria Falls, and with the magic of ‘Mosi wa Tunya’, who knows, maybe olive branches will be extended.

Imagine soldiers from war-torn Ukraine playing with their Russian counterparts, and maybe finding each other here in Zimbabwe.

Or Israelis and Palestinians announcing a ceasefire in their ongoing war after smoking the peace pipe in Victoria Falls.

As far-fetched as this might be, it is the goal of such championships. 

To host a successful championship that will be the envy of participants, ZDF needs to raise enough resources to feed and accommodate the delegates.

It is in bid to host a world-class tournament that maintains the integrity of ZDF and Zimbabwean sport that Air Vice Marshal Simon Nyowani announced a fund-raising golf tournament open to civilian stakeholders to be held on March 22 at Chapman Golf Club.

“The 14th edition of the World Military Golf Championship held in the US saw an enormous involvement of the private sector,” he said.

“In the same vein, the ZDF cannot go it alone hence the appeal to the corporate world to come on board and partner us in hosting this international sporting event.

“The event presents international visibility for companies and organisations that partner the ZDF. This gives them an international platform to market their products and services.”

Air Vice Marshal Nyowani said the ZDF had an obligation to feed and accommodate their guests.

“Each country will have a nine-member team and their coach,” he said.

“As hosts we are obligated to feed and accommodate them. We want this tournament to be a success, thus we need to raise enough funds to cover all our costs.

“The provisional budget for the championship has been broken down to include training, gold equipment, administration, accommodation, transport, meals and prizes.

“The organising committee can avail the budget to interested partners who can select where they can fit.”

Meanwhile, ZDF is expecting at least 20 countries to take part in the World Military Golf Championships.

“ZDF is a member of CISM and participates in most CISM World Military Games and championships,” said Air Vice Marshal Nyowani.

“This, in a way, fosters friendship, peace and solidarity between and among nations.

“Zimbabwe won the bid to host the 2024 World Military Golf Championships in Victoria Falls from 16 to 23 June ahead of Kenya and Ireland.

“We expect 20 defence/armed forces (teams) from around the globe to participate in the championships.”

CISM is the second largest multi-discipline sports organisation after the International Olympic Committee (IOC),  holding more than 20 competitions annually for its 140 member countries.

It aims to promote sporting activities and physical education between defence forces as a means to foster world peace under the motto “Friendship Through Sport”.

The magnitude of the championship thus cannot be underplayed especially at a time Zimbabwe is making significant inroads in its foreign policy driven by the desire to engage and re-engage.

Air Vice Marshal Nyowani said the event would go a long way in marketing Zimbabwe as a prime tourism destination.

“Whilst the event promotes friendship through sports, it is without doubt that it also gives an opportunity to sell Zimbabwe as a tourist destination of choice,” he said.

“It is also an opportunity to buttress the country’s ‘Engagement and Re-engagement’ drive by showcasing what is on offer in terms of investments and tourism.”

The Second Republic, under the leadership of His Excellency Dr Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa, has been making gigantic strides in courting investors from countries that have previously been at loggerheads with Harare.

This has seen a large number of investors, some from the Western worldm showing unprecedented interest in investing in such diverse sectors as mining, clean energy and agriculture, while some have already injected millions in investment funds into these and other key sectors.

This is gradually transforming Zimbabwe into an economic powerhouse in line with the Government’s Vision 2030.

The ZDF has participated in previous tournaments held in Sri Lanka (2017), Germany (2018) and the US (2023).

The team is already in camp training for the next three months with the hope of doing much better than in their previous outings.

Over the years, golf has been gaining a sizeable following among the blacks compared to yesteryear when it was a largely white-dominated sport.

A tournament of this magnitude, if well supported, will go a long way in enticing youths from diverse backgrounds to join the ranks and probably provide a fertile breeding ground for Zimbabwe’s own Tiger Woods.

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