Falcon College from Esigodini have retained the Crusader Shield for the second year in a row, at the 77th rendition of the oldest of all school boy sports tournaments in Zimbabwe, held last month at St John’s College in Harare.
The Crusader Shield is the premier schools water polo tournament. It has been played since 1937, with Prince Edward having won it a record 28 times.
This year’s tournament was a nail-biting affair, with Falcon needing to beat St John’s in the final game of the round robin tournament to retain the shield. Falcon were unbeaten in all their previous games, having won a penalty shoot out in their first game against Hellenic International Academy.
Two other games of mention were the two upsets of the weekend with St George’s managing to turn over Hellenic, and Peterhouse beating Christian Brothers College from Bulawayo. The result from Peterhouse was particularly encouraging, as they have only recently returned to playing water polo. This result bodes well for the future of the game in Zimbabwe as there are now six very competitive sides competing in the national tournaments.
The game of the tournament was however the last match of the round robin where Falcon and St John’s met. Due to other results in the tournament, if St John’s were able to beat Falcon they would walk away with the trophy. Both teams came to the final extremely fired up, desperately wanting to get their hands on the coveted shield. The teams went into the half at 4-4 and it really was anybody’s match to win. However it was Falcon who were able to raise themselves and put in two blinding final quarters that saw them run out victors 8-4, ensuring that the shield would return once again to Esigodini.
Outstanding performances in the boy’s tournament came from Falcon captain Chris Friend, Vice Captain Giovanni Fargnolli and goalkeeper Aidan Carrelo. Other notable performances came from Rhyder Quinlan of Hellenic, Simon Stubbs and Lebogang Ngwenya of St Georges, Tom Chadwick, Bart Zwart and Glynne Rorke of St John’s and Richard Werrett of Peterhouse.Ultimately Fargnolli was named boys’ ‘Player of the Tournament.’
Speaking to Harare News, Fargnolli said, “We went through so many challenges to be where we are today. But we managed to win the Shield due to working together as a team and listening to our coach Craig Kesson and his technical team. Most of all it was due to discipline and and following instructions.”
Alongside the Crusader Shield tournament is the girl’s premier tournament, the Player’s Shield, also held at St John’s. This is a relatively new competition in the calendar as girl’s polo is a fairly new sport not just in Zimbabwe but also in the rest of the world.
This year’s event saw Chisipite romp to victory completing another unbeaten season. Chisipite have been at the forefront of developing the girl’s game in Zimbabwe and can boast a very proud record of results in the polo pool.
Also competing in the Player’s event were Hellenic, Girls College from Bulawayo and an invitational side comprising players from Peterhouse, Petra and Chisipite. Joey Beare of Chisipite was awarded the girls ‘Player of the Tournament.’
Dion Willis flew up to Zimbabwe from South Africa to act as tournament director and to officiate a number of the games played.
Zimbabwe will be sending four boys’ age group teams and four girls’ teams to the SA Schools championships in East London at the end of the year. Next year’s Crusader Shield and Players tournament is due to be held in Bulawayo where Falcon College and Chisipite will be defending their titles in what is sure to be another outstanding tournament, enjoyed by spectators and players alike.