Play for Zimbabwe: Press Release
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Kwapi T. Vengesayi
“Like football in a small Texas town,” Cricket Brings Hope Amidst Adversity
Australia’s Cancellation of Zimbabwe Cricket Tour Inspires Worldwide Day of Play
United States—July 30, 2007—With the Australian government’s refusal to let its national Cricket team tour the struggling country of Zimbabwe in September, the cancellation of the highly-anticipated event leaves a void among fans in a way similar to if an NFL team refused to travel for a playoff game. Like youth in the United States who are getting creative in order to be heard, young Zimbabweans are attempting for only one day to help fill the void with Play For Zimbabwe, a grass-roots effort to organize cricket games around the world on Sept. 1, 2007.
“Cricket in Zimbabwe is like football in a small Texas town,” said Kwapi T. Vengesayi, a University of Idaho graduate, describing how significant the sport is to the country. “It’s a sport that builds bridges.”
He notes the social importance of the game, saying, “Given Zimbabwe’s history and transition from colonial rule, cricket has at times been a reflection of the reconciliatory mentality needed to forge a prosperous nation as white, black, middle eastern, rich or poor come together not only as players but as fans and wave the red, green and yellow flag of Zimbabwe as one people.”
Play For Zimbabwe will take place in several cities and towns across Europe, Australia and New Zealand, Africa, the USA and Canada. Zimbabweans and cricket lovers alike from around the globe are encouraged to be a part of games near them on Sept. 1. From backyards and playgrounds, to streets and clubs, organizers and players will enjoy a day where the focus is not on political ideology or its effects, but simply on the game of Cricket; a sport that crosses racial, political and socioeconomic lines.
“By celebrating the strengths of our people—that is, the hope, humour and resilience—we are starting to rebuild our sense of national pride and demonstrating that we still believe in our right to a future, that we haven't given up,” Lucy Jarvis, organizer for the Australian region, said. “The Play For Zimbabwe initiative is an avenue for Zimbabweans to express their love for a nation at a time when all we get is bad news.”
Organizers are hoping to use the extended network of young Zimbabweans around the globe. This is done by utilizing today’s most popular resources—social networks and blog sites, in a grassroots effort to promote unity among scattered citizens of the struggling nation. Mostly university students from Zimbabwe who are not currently in their home country are coordinating games.
“The initiative appeals to this generation in particular because of its simplicity and its optimistic nature,” the event’s blog site states. “It is different, but it is increasingly evident that in order to make a difference, a different approach is needed.” Like many other young people, this generation of Zimbabweans is finding hope in the potential for sport to represent the vision of a unified country. More importantly, they are celebrating the strength and power that is a current reality among them, as they are able to organize a worldwide event like Play For Zimbabwe. ###