Zimbabwe’s married cricket coaches die three weeks apart

Sinikiwe Mpofu
Sinikiwe Mpofu played in the first international match of the Zimbabwe women’s national team in 2006.

Cricket in Zimbabwe is mourning the deaths of two married national team coaches who died within weeks of each other.

The couple is survived by two children.

Sinikiwe Mpofu, assistant coach of the women’s national team, passed away “suddenly” on January 7, she was pronounced dead on arrival at a medical facility after collapsing at her home in Masvingo.

An autopsy is pending to determine the cause of the 37-year-old’s death.

The former international, nicknamed “Sneeze”, was married to Zimbabwe men’s coach Shepherd Makunura, who died on December 15 after a long battle with illness, aged 46.

Mpofu was a talented all-rounder who was part of the history-making team that played the Lady Chevrons’ first international in December 2006.

“Sinikiwe’s departure has left us heartbroken,” said women’s national team captain Mary-Anne Musonda.

“This is the least we expected after burying her husband.

– There was always joy and laughter with her and she was an inspiration to many.

A Zimbabwe Cricket statement described her post-playing career as “an integral part of Zimbabwe Cricket’s game development structure” at provincial and national level.

Mpofu was part of the technical teams that saw Zimbabwe excel in women’s cricket in Africa, earning one-day international status and recently finishing just one win away from qualifying for the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup.

As head coach, she led the Mountaineers Women to victory in the inaugural Fifty50 Challenge – Zimbabwe’s one-day women’s championship – in the 2020/21 season.

“We have lost a truly warm person in death,” said Zimbabwe Cricket CEO Givemore Makoni.

“What’s even more important [she was] a loving mother…one of the pioneers of women’s cricket in Zimbabwe who excelled as a coach at provincial and national level.

“Having passed away suddenly just weeks after the death of her beloved husband, who was also part of the coaching staff of our national team, this is a particularly difficult and painful time for their young children, families, friends and the entire cricket fraternity.”

Makunura and Mpofu were products of the black player and coach development program, and looked set to serve the game in Zimbabwe for many years to come.

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