Mugabe Jr’s hoop hopes boosted

2015-03-08 15:00

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There are two Robert Mugabes in Zimbabwe – and now one is getting ready to play for the country’s national basketball team.

Robert Mugabe Jr is a student at the American University in Dubai and is about to be called up to represent his home country in the Afro-Basketball Championships in Tunisia later this year.

The 21-year-old plays basketball for his college and previously captained Zimbabwe’s national team at Under-18 level.

Robert Mugabe Jr (far right) with some of his team-mates from the American University in Dubai

He once hoped to play basketball at an American college, but the Mugabe family is subject to tough US sanctions.

Zimbabwe’s national team coach, Elren Pinkerton, told City Press: “We will be sending a call-up letter to Robert Mugabe Jr soon, because he is a talented youngster.”

Zimbabwe All-Star coach Kelvin Ben called Mugabe Jr a “top-class talent”.

“Not many players of his age can do the things he does,” said Ben.

Mugabe Jr’s sporting ambitions haven’t always sat well with his 91-year-old father. Two years ago, the young man flunked his exams – and Zimbabwe’s president blamed basketball.

In an interview with state-owned media at the time, Mugabe Sr said: “We have now had to get him private teachers. He enjoys this basketball thing. He likes it; he goes to the gym after that, but aahh?...?we were given the impression he was working hard. ‘How are you doing?’ we would ask him, and ‘Yes, the papers were not hard,’ he would say,” the father complained.

His mother, Grace, though, has been openly supportive of her son’s hoop dreams.

She told a Zanu-PF rally two years ago that colleges in the US had offered her son basketball scholarships but sanctions meant he could not pursue these.

“We had to sit Robert Jr down and explain that he could not join a club playing in the US college league because of the sanctions.”

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