Diamond mining companies under the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC) have pooled US$160 000 for the Bob 89 Super Cup, a football tournament held as part of President Robert Mugabe's 89th birthday celebrations.
The tournament committee held a fundraising dinner in Harare on Wednesday night where ZMDC pledged the money, which constitutes a large chunk of the $192 000 raised on the night.
Minister of Mines Obert Mpofu was guest of honour at the dinner and implored the organisers to include more teams in future after giants Highlanders and Dynamos were hand-picked for this year's final that will be played over two legs, with the first in Bulawayo on Sunday.
Four teams were involved in last year's edition and Mpofu advised the organisers to include other sporting disciplines in future. Committee chairman and founder of the three year-old tournament Stan Kasukuwere confirmed yesterday part of the proceeds would be used to establish a football academy.
"We managed to raise enough for our requirements," said Kasukuwere. "Besides the monetary pledges we also received support in the form of playing kits from the two teams' sponsor, BancABC, who will also pay the players' allowances. They will provide transport and accommodation for the teams in Bulawayo and Harare."
Nyaradzo Funeral Services also provided two buses which will be used to ferry supporters, while other companies also chipped in with varying amounts.
Kasukuwere said while they had considered allowing fans free entry into the matches they were advised against this by the Premier Soccer League whom they will meet to finalise gate charges and prize-money.
The two teams will use the pre-season encounters to prepare for what should be another exciting football year.
Dynamos will soon start participation in the Caf Champions League and have been busy trying to assemble a strong side after losing the likes of strikers Roderick Mutuma and Simba Sithole as well as Denver Mukamba to South African clubs. Highlanders, on the other hand, have maintained the same squad from last season, but could add a few new faces.
The second leg of the tournament will be played at Rufaro stadium on February 24.