Various circumstances have caused people to leave our country and seek “greener pastures”. The sporting arena is no different, where various athletes have weighed between wearing our national colours (and not get match international recognition) or to take up new nationality and represent another nation.
Here are a list of 9 sporting individuals who have taken up the flag of other nations, but whose roots are in Zimbabwe:
1. Janine Murray – Australia
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Janine Murray is a Zimbabwean born Australian rhythmic gymnast who left Zimbabwe in 2002. She has won a gold medal in the team event at the 2010 Commonwealth Games and earned a spot to represent Australia at the 2012 Summer Olympics. Nicknamed Jeannie, Murray was born on 10 March 1990 in Harare, Zimbabwe and attended primary school at Chisipite Junior School and has stated that she had to deal with food and petrol shortages, with the latter making it difficult for her to get to her school.
2. Tendai Mtawarira – South Africa
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More popularly known as ‘The Beast’, Mtawarira was born in August 1985 in Harare. He attended Churchill Boys High School for 5 years before being given a full scholarship to Peterhouse Boys’ School. At the age of 15, while at Churchill, he was spotted by legendary Zimbabwean Coach Joey Muwadzuri who invited him to join the Under 19 side at the National Schools Festival. Notably, despite living in South Africa and representing the country internationally, Mtawarira was a Zimbabwean national until late June 2010; he qualified for South Africa by three years’ residency, as allowed under International Rugby Board rules.
3. David Pocock – Australia
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David Pocock is an Australian rugby player who was born in Gweru Zimbabwe. He is former Australian captain for the Under 20s. Pocock grew up in Gweru but later left for Australia during the Land Redistribution exercise implemented by the Zimbabwean government from about 2000. His family left to settle in Brisbane, Australia in 2000. He became a professional Rugby player making his Wallabies debut against the All Blacks in Hong Kong in 2008.
As a professional rugby player Pocock had his breakthrough year in 2009 when he featured in 13 of the 14 Tests played by Australia including a man of the match effort in the drawn Test against Ireland at Croke Park, as well as a maiden Test try during the 33-12 win over Wales at Cardiff.
4. Takudzwa Ngwenya – USA
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Takudzwa ‘Zee’ Ngwenya is a professional rugby union player who plays for the United States national rugby union team and French team Biarritz Olympique as a wing. He was once touted as one of the fastest rugby wingers in the world (2010). He is the eldest of three boys, he first played rugby in Zimbabwe for the Mashonaland Club and for Vainona High School, from which he graduated in 2003. After moving to the USA, he played for the Plano Rugby Club in Plano, Texas and went on to play for the Dallas Athletic Rugby Club for a few years. He was clocked at 10.5 hand time for the 100 m dash.
5. David Denton – Scotland
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David Denton is a Scottish rugby union player who plays for Edinburgh Rugby in the Scottish Rugby League. He plays in the back row, starting 8 for Scotland, but can be played in the second row. He was born on 5 February 1990 in Marondera, Zimbabwe, to a Zimbabwean father and Scottish mother. It is because of his mother’s heritage that he is able to play for Scotland. He attended school in the Eastern Cape in South Africa, at Kingswood College before making several appearances for Eastern Province in Port Elizabeth, South Africa.
From South Africa, he moved to He moved to Edinburgh, Scotland where he studied economics at the University of Edinburgh. While at university he played for Edinburgh Academical Football Club. He started playing in the 3rd XV for much of his first season with the club, before advancing into the 2nd team by Malcolm McVie. Denton made into into the the Scotland Under 20s thereafter he’d play for the Scottish National Academy. It was after this that he was awarded a professional contract with Edinburgh from the 2010–11 season.
6. Gary Ballance – England
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Gary Simon Ballance (born 22 November 1989) is a Zimbabwean-English cricketer who is a left-handed batsman and a leg break bowler that normally fields at slip. Born in Harare Ballance first played in the Second XI Championship in 2006, making five appearances for Zimbabwe in the 2006 Under-19 World Cup, the team going on to finish sixth. His final match for the team, Ballance scored a half-century, gaining notice from Derbyshire and earning the chance to sign for the team in 2006. He played his first limited overs match two weeks later, having performed in the Derbyshire Second XI.
He made his England debut on 3 September 2013 in an ODI against Ireland. On 25 April 2015 Ballance became the third fastest England Test cricketer to reach 1,000 runs, in the second test against West Indies.
7. Colin de Grandhomme – New Zealand
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Colin de Grandhomme (born 22 July 1986 in Harare) is a Zimbabwe-born New Zealand cricketer. He plays for the Auckland Aces in the State Championship. He played for Zimbabwe in the 2004 U-19 Cricket World Cup in Bangladesh. His father Laurence played for Zimbabwe before they gained Test status. De Grandhomme left Zimbabwe for New Zealand in 2006, joining the Auckland team.
He made his international debut on 11 February 2012 for New Zealand in a Twenty20 International against his former country, Zimbabwe. His ODI debut came against South Africa in March 2012 in which he made 36 off 36 balls before being run-out by Albie Morkal.
8. Lewin Nyatanga – Wales
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Lewin John Nyatanga (born 18 August 1988) is a Welsh professional footballer who plays as a defender for Football League One club Barnsley. He previously played for Derby County and Bristol City, as well as Sunderland and Peterborough United. He has made 34 international appearances for the Wales national team, having previously held the record for the youngest player to represent the country when he made his international debut at the age of 17. That age record was broken by Gareth Bale when he played as a 16 year old.
9. Dereck Chisora – England
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Dereck Chisora (born 29 December 1983) is a British professional boxer who is a former British, Commonwealth and European heavyweight champion, and has challenged for the world heavyweight title. He was born in Mbare and attended Churchill Boys High School before moving with his family to the United Kingdom in 1999.
He has won the British, Commonwealth, European, WBO and WBA International Heavyweight Title championships in a career that has seen him fighting 30 fights, 25 of which were wins (17 knockouts) and 5 losses.
Main Image: David Pocock signing Australian national anthem before a game; Source: huffingtonpost.com.au