By Darlington Gatsi
WHEN she was in the dusty streets of Bindura, a dusty mining town 86,4 kilometres north of capital Harare, she was one of the many hopeless girls struggling to go through a day in Zimbabwe.
Life had already dealt her a heavy blow by three when she lost a parent, with circumstances leaving her with only her maternal grandmother as guardian.
Mazvita Tafirenyika in an unconventional way discovered an innate potential which later transformed her life, delivering her from the jaws of poverty to the heights of continental stardom.
Volleyball provided her with a steppingstone to a life totally different from what she had gotten used.
In Cape Town, Tafirenyika can barely believe her sad and unfortunate upbringing.
“It is so hard to describe how everything took place but all I can say is through hard work, self-motivation, discipline and probably meeting the right people at the right time I managed to get to where I am today.
“I give thanks to AM Academy for kick-starting my journey.
“I started playing volleyball when I was in grade three. I went to the court one day and saw guys playing and told myself there was no way I could not play the sport.
“By grade four I was playing for the senior team. That is about the time AM Academy came scouting for talent in rural areas, saw me and offered to pay my school fees as part of its scholarship.
“Because of AM Academy’s gesture I started taking volleyball seriously because something positive was coming out of it,” said Mazvita Tafirenyika.
Almost 12 years later, Tafirenyika is now in Cape Town, not only playing a sport she loves but studying towards its administration at tertiary level.
She is studying towards an honours degree in sports science at the University of Western Cape.
“Although there is no place like home, I am actually humbled to be here at the University of Western Cape,” she added.
AM Academy plucked her a rough diamond in rural Mazvita and started her meteoric rise through Zimbabwean volleyball.
Tafirenyika has represented Zimbabwe at all junior levels and the senior team, defying the usually hopeless situations millions of talented young girls in rural areas find themselves in.
She has featured for the national squad’s beach volleyball team and is part of its six-aside team.
In South Africa she is plying for Western Cape where she hopes she can get a chance in the sport’s continental showpiece.
“The love and the support I am getting from my team and my coach, I thank God for my talent,” she said.
“I actually want to be bigger in volleyball, to the extent of playing the biggest games like those in the African championship and other tournaments,
“I want to be in a position where I can also help other kids who do not have enough equipment or who do not have money to pursue their dreams, who are in a position I was in.”
Locally, the Zimbabwe Volleyball Association made its hopes for a berth at the 2024 Paris Olympics in France clear, and Tafirenyika who is expected to be a defining factor of the national team’s outcome, believes it is possible.
She told this publication Zimbabwe had the talent, which is highlighted by some of its stars dominating regional leagues.
“I think it is actually true that Zimbabwean volleyball is developing. Zimbabwean teams and senior players are dominating in the region; look at the Zone VI games and you will realise they were good and even reached the finals,” she said.