Zimbabwe Squash Academy Trust founder and head coach Mashumba Mukumba, is appealing for support to promote the game of squash across Zimbabwe.Established in 2009 at Harare’s premier Belgravia Sports Club, the academy has recruited children from high density areas such as Kuwadzana, Dzivaresekwa, Mufakose, Budiriro, Glen View but financial constraints and support hampered their dreams to compete internationally.
Mukumba, who came up with the idea of setting up an academy after attending the 9th World Squash Coaching and Development Conference in Hong Kong in 2009, has extended a begging bowl to well-wishers in a bid to raise funds to fulfil their international tourney, get adequate resources for training and to hold regular tournaments considering that the majority of kids are from underprivileged families.
“The academy caters for young, aspiring players from both the low and high-density areas and training sessions are held during weekends and holidays. We are affiliated to the Zimbabwe Squash Association and our aim is to groom many squash players.
“We started with 15 boys and girls, the academy has been growing. The growth has been overwhelming considering that it’s the only squash academy in Harare and yet there has been an ever-increasing number of youths with interest in squash.
“Some of the children struggle to pay for their school fees while others struggle to get a decent meal at home,” he said.
While squash is still regarded as an elite sport which can be accessed by the minority who are learning in Group A schools, Mukumba says they are finding it hard to get sponsorship while donation from the international community continues to shrink.
“We also have a considerable number of kids from Group A schools who can afford. However, the majority are from underprivileged backgrounds.
“We used to depend on donations from overseas and local players but we have to pay duty on old donated stuff yet some of the material is expensive to buy locally.
“The academy is in need of squash rackets, shoes, bags, balls just to mention a few,” he said.
Mukumba continued, “Some of the kids drop out of the academy because they struggle to pay for their transport since parents do not understand the benefits of the sport. They also struggle to raise money to travel with other team players to represent Zimbabwe on international tournaments. We are appealing for well-wishers to support us.”
Annually, ZEST holds anniversary celebrations of a squash tournament and this year’s tourney is scheduled for November 30-December 1.
“We do this as a way of interaction among different races and different cultures.
“The academy has managed to produce players such as Yvonne Mubure who has represented the country in events such as the All Africa Championships in 2011 in South Africa and 2012 when it was held here in Zimbabwe.
“She is the current women’s champion in the country. We have Tafadzwa Mushunje, Innocent Mukumba who have played in the Juniors Worlds Championships in Namibia.
“We also have the likes of Polite Mubure who got assistance from some club members in terms of school fees and a squash kit.
“Polite is the current Under-19 girl’s number one. She was in India for the World Junior Squash Championships in July this year representing Zimbabwe. It is our hope to continue sharing such success stories,” he said.
Mukumba is a level two coach which is the highest qualification in the country so far.
He represented Zimbabwe at the world coaching conferences in Denmark and Poland.
Mukumba also attended regional coaching seminars in South Africa in 2012. He participated at the World coaching conference in June 2014 in Krakow Poland.
In January 2015, Mukumba was in New York, US, for the National Urban Squash Education Association (NUSEA) 20th anniversary, to learn and adopt squash combined with educational help.