HARARE – Former Zimbabwe national team cricket coach Steve Mangongo landed in India this week in charge of the Under-19 side of South Africa’s PowerPlay Sports Academy, a very exciting and thriving project he is a co-director of.

The intensive fortnight tour of India is through a special invitation from the academy of Indian Premier League (IPL) franchise Chennai Super Kings, and Mangongo has led the delegation as chairman of Johannesburg-based PowerPlay.

The legendary Zimbabwean development coach – who has churned out Zimbabwe’s best black cricketers for the greater part of three decades – has taken his expertise across the border into South Africa, where he is hugely respected and is gradually making a mark as a stalwart of grassroots cricket as he has been in his homeland for a number of years.

The Barbados batch at Heathrow Airport in London en route to Chennai, India.

Max Chifamba, a former first-class player from Zimbabwe, is also heavily involved in the project as one of the directors.

Chairman Steve Mangongo with fellow PowerSport co-director Max Chifamba.

Last week, PowerPlay announced it had appointed Barbadian-born Winston Weekes as the centre’s Director of Cricket.

A cordial relationship has existed for a long time between London-based sports agent Weekes and some leading figures in Zimbabwean cricket. He particularly got along with gifted township cricketers like Mangongo and others back in the days, who England-raised Weekes took under his wings during visits to Zimbabwe to play and coach in the African country in the 1980s.

Winston Weekes.

On top of Weekes’ role with PowerPlay, the academy also has a partnership with Barbadian cricket. The young side that is in India includes six members from Barbados, and together they are known as the PowerPlay Sports Global Under-19 team.

The squad arrived in batches on Tuesday and has been training this Wednesday. The matches proper against the CSK Academy start with two T20s on Thursday.

Until 15 January, they will engage in three two-day, five T20 and four 50-over matches.

Steve Mangongo takes the players through their paces in Chennai on Wednesday.

“CSK is the hotbed of cricket in India, therefore it makes logic to put these boys into the pressure cooker at an early stage of their cricket journey,” Mangongo told SportsCast from Chennai.

“It’s the bigger synergy of giving exposure to the PowerPlay-identified boys in South Africa and Barbados.”

Mangongo added that the academy draws its players from not necessarily the strongest cricketing backgrounds.

“PowerPlay Sports shall be the hub of talent identification in Africa, offering boys from non-mainstream environments the opportunity to be international cricketers.”


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