By Tafadzwa Muranganwa| A popular apostolic church, St John Apostolic Church of the Whole World honoured its leader’s birthday by organising an anti-drug abuse sports tournament on Saturday.
Dubbed the ‘Sydney Mabhiza Foundation Charity Tournament’, the event was held at Allan Wilson High School and featured 16 football teams and a number of netball teams across Harare.
Aside the main sport disciplines, there were athletics, tug-of-war and eating contests. A sizeable crowd witnessed the fun-filled sports gala.
Addressing journalists on the sidelines of the tournament, the church’s national youth patron, Richard Paradzai Mandebvu said the event was born out of the realisation of the drug abuse scourge and it’s impact on the social being particularly of the youths.
“We felt we wanted to honour Bishop Mabhiza and deliberately on the best way to do such.
“As a church we felt that because of the prevalence of drug abuse it was worthwhile to organise a sports tournament to celebrate our leader’s birthday at the same time spreading the anti-drug messages. Its not a secret that drug abuse has taken its toll on the youths leading to a lot of delinquencies and fuelling gender-based violence(GBV), “Mandebvu said.
He went on to express gratitude at the turn out and says plans are underway to spread the initiative countrywide.
” I can safely say the inaugural tournament has surpassed all our expectations, people came in their numbers.
“We hope to conduct such a programme in other provinces,” he added.
A coach with Harare East select soccer team,Jonathan Hapazari hailed the tournament for helping youths to stay off drups and giving them an opportunity to showcase their talents.
“This is a noble initiative that we took part in. For instance it discourages young people as they find something to occupy them.
” This is also a platform for the youths to expose their talents, “affirmed Hapazari.
A youth, Munashe Madzongwe also welcomed the gesture.
The highlight of the day was the mouthwatering final pitting the crowd’s favourite team, Ribexy and Retreat Park FC which ended in a 1-1 stalemate. The match ended with the dreadful penalties and Retreat Park FC emerged victors. The winner got a trophy, medals and US$800 while the losing finalist was awarded with US$300.
In the Netball competition, Uplands was the losing finalist and Mothers of Mercy was crowned champions.
The ‘birthday boy’Bishop Dr Sydney Mabhiza, guest of honour Dr Tichaona Maume, Federation of Indigenous Churches in Zimbabwe chairman Bishop Livingstone Marufu and the St John Apostolic Church of the Whole World top hierarchy attended the event.
There were also live music performances by Craig Zonke, Pasi neGuka hitmaker and Mambo Dhuterere, who are all members of the fledging congregation.