Editorial Comment: Chegutu feels the power of sport

CHEGUTU is a small farming and mining hub in Mashonaland West and a key transit point for human and good traffic along the Harare/Bulawayo highway.

It is a vibrant town and on Saturday it came to a virtual standstill when its local football team, Chegutu Pirates, played the biggest match of its 42-year history.

It appeared like all the residents of this town decided to converge at their stadium, Pfupajena, to support their Pirates in their showdown against Black Mambas.

The match had been hyped as a classic, the most important battle in the ZIFA Northern Region Division One League this season, pitting the number of side, Black Mambas, versus the number two side, Chegutu Pirates.

The incentive for the Pirates was that if they could win this big match, they would take over the leadership of the marathon and, with one game to go, will have their fate in their hands.

A victory would give them a two-point lead at the top of the table and requiring victory, in their last game against Herentals Under-20, for them to be confirmed as champions, irrespective of what would happen elsewhere.

And, despite all the pressure that was coming from the capacity crowd, the in-form Pirates, who had won their last six matches, managed to strike once and defend their goal jealously as they won 1-0.

The joy, which swept throughout Chegutu, after the final whistle, had to be seen to be believed.

You had scores of people shedding tears, strangers hugging and dancing and it was beautiful to watch.

That’s the beauty about the power of sport.

A few months ago, this town found itself divided by the political choices its residents needed to make in choosing their representatives for Parliament and their choice for the President.

Now, you had the whole town united under the banner of their Pirates and all the differences of yesterday appeared to have disappeared as Chegutu celebrated as one family.

The business people of this town were also smiling.

Business was roaring with a huge influx of people who came from all parts of the country to watch this big showdown.

Vendors reported brisk business and so did the shop owners.

At some stage, it was virtually impossible to find some ice for sale on Saturday.

This is the power of sport and, in this country, we tend to either ignore it or not understand it.

Sports has the potential to transform small towns, like Chegutu, into vibrant communities.

Suddenly, we were hearing stories that the business community in the area had pooled their resources and were splashing cash incentives on the team’s players and their coaching staff.

This is transformational, the lives of these players and coaches being changed by the rewards coming from their sweat.

We saw new heroes emerging within this community and, if they can win a place in the Premier League, we are pretty sure that their lives would change forever.

On Saturday, sport showed its true power in Chegutu.

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