HARARE – Gerald Sibanda, the former Zimbabwe rugby international who is now vying to head the game in his homeland, has promised to deliver with “the same energy and spirit” he was known for as a player.

The 37-year-old sports entrepreneur has officially announced his candidacy ahead of the elective AGM of the Zimbabwe Rugby Union (ZRU) on 25 May, where he will battle it out with two others in what is expected to be a close election.

“I’m so delighted that I’ve raised up my hand for the post of ZRU president,” Sibanda told SportsCast on Monday.

“I always knew that at some point I would come into the administration of the game of rugby, to help develop and grow it. After being approached by a number of stakeholders, I considered my position. I’ve come back to the game.”

After hanging up his rugby boots in 2018, Sibanda ventured into sports business, going on to establish the Real Betis Academy in Harare, the top Spanish club’s first of its kind in Africa.

He is also the founder and CEO of sports marketing firm, Athletes Sphere Management.

The football side of things keeps him busy, but Sibanda is banking on his youthful vigour to also make a difference in the game that shot him to prominence.

“I will use the same energy and spirit I used as a player when I played rugby for my country both in 15s and Sevens, and at junior level,” he remarked.

“I’ve been to three World Cups with my country. In 2005 as vice-captain of Zimbabwe (at the short-lived Under-19 Rugby World Championship in South Africa), in 2009 as a player (at the Rugby World Cup Sevens in Dubai) and in 2018 as part of the management at the World Cup Sevens in San Francisco, USA. So ja, I believe I have better understanding and exposure of what it takes to be right there at the top. But it’s a team game, it’s not about me. Together we are ready to repay and serve those that have called me back to rugby, a game I love so much. I’m confident that given the opportunity, there will be massive shift and massive turnaround.”

While he played at the highest level in the shorter version of the game, Sibanda’s greatest desire is to see the current generation of players take Zimbabwe back to the World Cup of the pinnacle format of the sport.

Zimbabwe, nicknamed the Sables, were the only African team in the first two editions of the World Cup in 1987 and 1991, but have not qualified for the sport’s biggest showcase ever since.

“I know we have lost valuable time in terms of the good rugby that Zimbabwe used to play in the 80s and the 90s,” said Sibanda.

“We’ve lost good opportunities to grow and advance the game. We are living in an era where the game has grown commercially, where the game has gone professional. Zimbabwe has to catch up with the rest of the world, in line with the development plans of (global governing body) World Rugby. Obviously my inspiration comes from my seven years of sports management with different brands around the world. So ja, I’m ready to surround myself with a good team, with people who believe in me, and with the people of Zimbabwe who dream that our team will play again at the World Cup. People who dream that one day rugby in our country will be professional, a fantastic commercial product for our corporates and stakeholders in government and industry. I’m delighted that we have a plan in place for grassroots development, we have a plan in place for infrastructure development, so that rugby can be the sport of choice in Zimbabwe. My aim is to emulate the (ZRU) boards of 1987 and 1991.”

A versatile backline player with relentless work-rate, pace and eye for the try-line since his days at Milton Boys High in Bulawayo and Churchill Boys High in Harare, Sibanda spent the last stage of his playing career in Europe, retiring in Romania in 2018.

Sibanda will challenge incumbent ZRU president Aaron Jani at the highly-anticipated AGM in Harare. Losson Mtongwiza, one of the two current vice-presidents of the union, is the other candidate.


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