Twelve years after waving goodbye to the school that nurtured him academically and sports-wise, Caps United skipper Hardlife Zvirekwi was back at Mount Pleasant High School for the NetOne Anti-Doping Awareness Campaign.
The runaway log leaders were led by their head coach Darlington Dodo, his technical team and other players.
This is the fourth time that the country’s leading network provider has done such an initiative with other projects having been done in Gweru with army side Chapungu United, Bulawayo with Bulawayo giants Highlanders and Harare with army side Black Rhinos, the four teams that they bankroll in the Castle lager Premier Soccer League (PSL).
Making a sensational return at the school he left before coming face to face with a career-ending car accident, Zvirekwi delivered an emotional speech, much to the applause of his fellow teammates as he explained how being exemplary has worked in his favour.
“I was here since 2003 when I was in Form Two. I know every corner here up to the University of Zimbabwe. But at times, students need to understand that this is the time to shape your future. I was good at school and sports as well but I chose to follow my heart and peruse football as a career. I, therefore, challenge all of you to stay away from drugs, and choose the right paths that will lay a better foundation for a better life,” said Zvirekwi.
He added, “ Most of you would not believe that I left this school with both of my arms, but here I am, I lost my other arm in an accident in which most people had ruled me out for good. However, determination and self-respect helped me come back even much stronger. Who would have given me a chance to bounce back? Even my teammates thought I was joking when I said I will come back,” Zvirekwi said suppressing drops of tears that had started trickling down his cheeks after the heart-rendering speech.
Mount Pleasant High School Sports Director Fabian Takundwa applauded NetOne for remembering them and said he hoped the visit was the beginning of many more visits to come.
“I would want to thank the two parties, Caps United and NetOne for the gesture. Some of our students have never had a chance to mix and mingle with Premier League players, and today, for some, it was a dream come true. I worked with Hardlife Zvirekwi and I am happy for him as well. They have really inspired some of our upcoming players. Actually, it’s my pleasure to announce that this year we did well in the NASH Under-20 football competitions, meaning the visit will help us even do much better in the future. It’s true, kids need to stay away from drugs, Hardy is an icon here,” he said.
Speaking at the same event, NetOne Public Relations head, Dr Elderette Shereni said they are hoping that the campaign is going to have an impact on the school kids and help them shun drugs.
“We have discovered that footballers have become role models for many youngsters, especially those that would have come from the same school. So we saw it wise to use this method to try and buttress the anti-drugs campaign in school,” she said.
She, however, added that they were looking forward to adjusting the timing of these visits in schools so that they don’t clash with examination time tables.
“It’s unfortunate we are doing these visits during the school’s third term which is not all that conducive as students would be busy with examinations. We are looking forward to adjusting the programme next year and who knows, these visits might be the beginning of synergies between clubs and schools in terms of talent identification,” she said.