Sport in Zimbabwe
Sport in Zimbabwe has a long tradition and has produced many world recognized sports names and personalities. Football is the most popular sport, although rugby union, cricket and netball also have a following, traditionally among the white minority. Field hockey is also played widely. Although Zimbabwe played hockey field competed for Zimbabwe, there are also a large number of athletes who learned their sport in Zimbabwe, but have chosen to represent other countries.
Cricket is the most popular sport in Zimbabwe after football. Its national team is one of ten elite Full Members that play Test cricket. They began to gain success in mid-1990s. Andy Flower, a Zimbabwean batsman, was once ranked top batsmen in the world. However, due to their poor performances in Test cricket the team has been criticised. They have recently improved with a well-established domestic structure.
Field hockey has the second biggest player base in the country after football, equally split among genders and a strong youth foundation in many schools. Currently, Zimbabwe has three pitches, two in Bulawayo - one water base and one sand filled - and another sand filled at the Arundel School in the capital city of Harare. Bulawayo has approximately 1,000 hockey players and Harare 8,000. While the country had a tradition in the sport, with the women's team being gold medallist of the inaugural Olympic tournament in Moscow 1980, they struggled in recent times largely due to their inability to participate in international competitions organized by the African Hockey Federation (AfHF) and the International Hockey Federation (FIH), until the Khumalo Hockey Stadium was refurbished and played host to the 2011 African Olympic Qualifier.
The Zimbabwe Premier Soccer League (known as CBZ Premier Soccer League) is the top professional division in Zimbabwe. There are 16 teams in the division with Dynamos F.C. from Harare being the defending champions and having the most wins followed by their rivals Highlanders FC whom they play with in the Zimbabwe Derby. There are two main cup competitions played in Zimbabwe, both are knockout tournaments, the first is the Mbada Diamonds Cup with Highlanders FC being the defending champions after winning it in 2013 and the Banc ABC Super 8 with Shabanie Mine being the defending champions after winning it in 2013 and the recently launched Chibuku Super Cup. The CBZ FA Cup was first created as the Southern Rhodesia Castle Cup in 1962. The other major cup is the Zimbabwean Independence Trophy created as a clubs competition in 1983. Current holders of the trophy are Shooting Stars F.C..
Zimbabwe has eight main stadiums where football is played, the largest being the multi-use National Sports Stadium.
Notable Zimbabwean footballers are Benjamin "Benjani" Mwaruwari, who plays for Blackburn Rovers F.C. as a striker, and is the current Zimbabwe national team captain, having taken over the captaincy from Peter Ndlovu. Ndlovu is also a notable Zimbabwean footballer having spent twelve seasons playing for top English football clubs. Another well known Zimbabwean footballer is Bruce Grobbelaar, a goalkeeper, who played for the national team, but most notably for Liverpool F.C. from 1980 to 1994.
Rugby union is a significant sport in Zimbabwe, dating back to the late 19th century. The Zimbabwe national rugby union team has been at the Rugby World Cup twice. The country has also produced a number of significant rugby players, although there has been a tendency for many of them to play in South Africa.
Olympics and other games
Zimbabwe has won eight Olympic medals, one (team medal) in field hockey at the (boycotted) 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow, and the other seven by swimmer Kirsty Coventry, three at the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens and four at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing. Coventry won two gold medals, four silver, and one bronze.
Zimbabwe also did well in the Commonwealth Games and All-Africa Games in swimming, with Coventry winning 11 gold medals in the different competitions. The country hosted the 1995 All-Africa Games.
In golf – in 1995 – Zimbabwe reached the final of the Dunhill Cup, where they narrowly lost to Scotland.
In snowboarding - Zimbabwe have a single pro snowboarder by the name of Michael Lewer. Born in Bulawayo, he moved to Scotland, where he began his snowboarding career. After 8 years in Scotland, he moved to Alberta, Canada in 2012. Michael's main riding spots are Lake Louise and Sunshine, but his favourite is Norquay!
Zimbabwe has also competed at Wimbledon and the Davis Cup in tennis, most notably with the Black Family, which comprises Wayne Black, Byron Black, and Cara Black. Zimbabwe's tennis players have also competed in most of the Olympic Games since independence in 1980.
Polocrosse has been played in Zimbabwe (at the time Rhodesia) since 1948. In 1997, Zimbabwe became the World Champions when they went unbeaten against Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa in Pietermaritzburg. Zimbabwe came fourth out of eight countries at the inaugural World Cup in 2003. Zimbabwe also won the Polocrosse Africa Cup in 2004. There are currently an estimated 156 playing members from 10 clubs. At the sports playing peak in 1996, there were 420 players. The decrease in Polocrosse players is due primarily to the Zimbabwean diaspora, and on-going economic and political crisis in the country. Polocrosse is often played by people from a rural background, and due to the land reforms in Zimbabwe, many of these people have left the country. Polocrosse-international.org
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