Cricket in Zimbabwe is mourning the death of two married national team coaches who passed away within weeks of each other.
The couple are survived by two children.
Sinikiwe Mpofu, the 37-year-old assistant coach to the women’s national team, passed away “suddenly” on 7 January, being pronounced dead on arrival at a medical facility after collapsing at her home in Masvingo.
The former international, who was nicknamed “Sneeze”, was married to Zimbabwe’s men’s fielding coach, Shepherd Makunura, who died on 15 December 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-ever international in December 2006.
“Sinikiwe’s departure has left us shattered,” said national women’s team captain Mary-Anne Musonda.
“This is the least we expected just after burying her husband.
“There was always joy and laughter with her and she was an inspiration to many.”
A statement from Zimbabwe Cricket described her post-playing career as “an integral part of Zimbabwe Cricket’s game development structures” at both provincial and national levels.
Mpofu has been part of the technical teams that have seen 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 guided Mountaineers Women to victory in the inaugural Fifty50 Challenge – Zimbabwe’s provincial one-day championship for women – in the 2020/21 season.
“Death has robbed us of a genuinely warm individual,” said Zimbabwe Cricket’s managing director, Givemore Makoni.
“More importantly [she was] a loving mother…one of the pioneers of women’s cricket in Zimbabwe who went on to excel as a coach at provincial and national levels.
“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.”
Makunura and Sinikiwe Mpofu were both products of the programme to develop black players and coaches, and they had looked set to serve the game in Zimbabwe for many more years.