President Emmerson Mnangagwa has hailed the ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup Qualifier 2021 as a perfect opportunity to showcase Zimbabwe’s passion for the game while boosting the country’s profile as a tourist destination of choice.

The tournament – running from 21 November to 5 December across four venues in Harare – is meant to decide three qualifiers for the ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup 2022 to be held in New Zealand, joining five teams who have already qualified.

“We are privileged and honoured to be hosting a tournament of this magnitude and global significance, bringing together nine teams over 15 days, competing at four venues across our capital city of Harare,” President Mnangagwa said, as he welcomed the participating teams and officials during a ceremony held at Harare Sports Club on Monday.

“Without any doubt, the ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup Qualifier 2021 is a unique opportunity to celebrate our country, Zimbabwe, in all its magnificence, richness, vibrancy and diversity . . .

“Apart from the magic that the game itself is promising, we believe the irresistible warmth of Zimbabweans as well as the enchanting beauty of our country and its tourist attractions will provide for an unforgettable experience for touring teams.”

The nine teams participating in the ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup Qualifier 2021 are Bangladesh, Ireland, the Netherlands, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Thailand, the United States of America, West Indies and Zimbabwe.

All of them, except Sri Lanka, attended the welcome event.

“I challenge all the teams to put in all their effort and deliver a good tournament, given the quality and experience of the various teams,” the President said.

“Allow me to welcome you all to this great country, Zimbabwe. I wish you all success in the competition and an enjoyable time in our country.”

President Mnangagwa applauded Zimbabwe Cricket (ZC) for leaving no stone unturned in preparing for the global event and also thanked the ICC for choosing Zimbabwe as the host country.

“I commend Zimbabwe Cricket and other stakeholders for the good work towards ensuring that we deliver a world-class and successful event,” he said.

“I believe I am not wrong in concluding that having the ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup Qualifier 2021 in Zimbabwe is a vote of confidence in what we are doing and what we are hoping to achieve.

“I would like to express our sincere gratitude to the International Cricket Council for giving us this opportunity to showcase our passion for the game and everything that makes Zimbabwe a wonderful country.”

ZC Chairman Tavengwa Mukuhlani said, apart from boosting tourism and economic activities in the country, he was pleased that cricket was aiding Zimbabwe’s diplomatic efforts.

“I believe, as a nation, we must take full advantage of such events which not only stimulate economic and tourism activities, but also create diplomatic opportunities and lasting legacies for the benefit of our communities,” he said in his address at the welcome event.

“As Zimbabwe Cricket, we are pleased to be creating such opportunities for our country.

“But beyond that, we envisage closer collaboration with the Government and industry to leverage our global profile as a sport in ways that will further enhance Zimbabwe’s influence and reputation and advance our national interests.

“Your Excellency, we are aware of your engagement and re-engagement efforts that are designed to enhance Zimbabwe’s international presence and to foster political, economic and social ties with other countries.

“We as a national sport are fully kitted out – complete with pads, gloves and helmet – playing the innings of our life to help you in our own small way through what we have termed engagement and re-engagement from the crease.”

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