The Zimbabwe cricket community is in shock following the death of former Zimbabwe women’s cricket team player Sinikiwe Mpofu who died suddenly on Saturday, a few weeks after the death of her husband, the national men’s fielding coach Shepherd Makunura.
The 37-year-old Bulawayo-born Zimbabwe women’s cricket team assistant coach, who was commonly known by her nickname, Sneeze, died after collapsing at her home in Masvingo yesterday.
Mpofu was a key player in Zimbabwe’s pioneering national women’s cricket side which is popularly known as the Lady Chevrons. The former allrounder opened the batting when Zimbabwe played its first women’s international match in 2006.
She started playing the game while she was still a student at Mpopoma High School and went on to feature for the provincial side Westerns.
In 2007, she joined Takashinga Cricket Club and also made it into the Northerns team after she moved to Harare to pursue further education.
After ending her playing career Mpofu became the first Zimbabwean female cricketer to transition from being a national cricket team player to being involved in the national team setup as a coach.
She rose through the ranks to become the assistant coach of the current team, under head coach Gary Brent.
She was also the head coach of the Mountaineers Women side which won the inaugural Fifty50 Challenge – Zimbabwe’s provincial one-day championship for women – in the 2020/21 season.
Last season, she led them to another final, finishing as runners-up in the Women’s T20 Cup.
Mpofu was supposed to be in South Africa for the inaugural ICC Under-19 Women’s World Cup which gets underway next week but was granted compassionate leave by Zimbabwe Cricket to mourn the death of her husband.
Her death comes her husband Makunura passed away on December 15, aged 46 after a prolonged illness.
Makunura was regarded as one of the country’s brightest home grown coaches after winning four Logan Cup titles and was the fielding coach of the men’s national side at the time of his death.
The couple, who met through the sport and before getting married over a decade ago, is survived by two sons.
Zimbabwe Cricket’s managining director Givemore Makoni led the tributes to Mpofu, describing her as a pioneer for women’s cricket in the country due to her success both as a player and a coach.
“Death has robbed us of a genuinely warm individual, more importantly a loving mother, and deprived so many others, including all of us, of one of the pioneers of women’s cricket in Zimbabwe who went on to excel as a coach at provincial and national levels,” Makoni said.
“With her sudden passing coming just a few weeks after the death of her loving husband, who was also a part of our national team coaching setup, this is particularly a difficult and painful time for their young children, families, friends and the entire cricket fraternity,” he added.
“In extending to them our heartfelt condolences, we wish them courage and strength to bear this devastating loss.”
Mpofu has been part of the technical teams that have seen Zimbabwe Women dominating Africa, earning one-day international status and recently finishing just one win away from qualifying for the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup. #RIPSneeze pic.twitter.com/8hX8qRd5sI
— Zimbabwe Cricket (@ZimCricketv) January 7, 2023