Mkandla vividly remembers a tête-à-tête with Mafuvise at the corner of Nzou and Gondo Streets in Mufakose. That conversation led to the discovery of one of the country’s brightest prospects who was voted the 2010 Zimbabwe Junior Sports Person of the Year.
Mkandla said it was not easy for him to convince Mafuvise’s parents to let their son take wheelchair tennis as a sport.
“When I first met Mafuvise he was with his brother Tashinga. They were just playing around their vicinity but I just told myself that I had found one person that I had looked for, for a long time.
“It took me a long time to convince his parents that Mafuvise was going to be a hero in wheelchair tennis because they did not understand it. But after taking a close look at me, they started believing in me and they gave me the go-ahead to start training him,” Mkandla said.
He said he faced another hurdle, as Mafuvise had never been on a wheel chair all his life.
“He could not even push a wheelchair or hold a racket which took me a lot of time to teach him.
“After some months Mafuvise started grasping a lot of the rules and regulations of the game and started showing signs of becoming a champion. We trained him until he became a champion in wheelchair tennis,” Mkandla said.
Mafuvise, a grade five pupil at Yamuranai Primary School in Mufakose had never dreamt of being a sportsperson in his life as he is disabled and walks with the aid of a stick.
“Since I started playing competitive matches, I have never gone beyond number two. It’s either I come first or second,” said the soft-spoken Mafuvise.
His first competitive tournament was the Junior Young Star tournament that was held in South Africa on July 10 2009.
He also took part in the Harare Open, which was held from April 27 to May 1 last year and came second in the singles category. He partnered 17-year-old Nyasha Alfonso who beat him for the first position in the singles category and won the doubles category.
The competition was an International Tennis Federation (ITF) recognised event which earned Mafuvise a lot of recognition.
Mafuvise was also the champion of the Danhiko games, held in October last year, where he won himself some cash which he used to buy uniforms and for the shipping of his new wheelchair, donated to him last year by the Challenged Athletes Foundation (CAF). The wheelchair arrived in the country last week.
“I now have my new wheelchair. I am actually declaring war on my opponents because I had been using big wheelchairs but now I have my right size so be warned,” declared Mafuvise.
Mafuvise’s participation in a number of competitions also inspired his elder brother Tashinga (14) to start playing tennis.
“I play tennis in my spare time, but I think for now I have to concentrate on my school work,” said the camera-shy Tashinga.
“Since Mafuvise started playing tennis his behaviour has changed. He has respect and is no longer the kind of person who wants everything done for him. I think this has had a bearing on his life,” Mkandla said.
While other kids occupy themselves doing all kinds of mischief, Mafuvise spends most of his time at his training ground in Mufakose.
Mafuvise believes there is nothing that can stop him from becoming one of the top players in the country in the future.
“I know God has a plan for me in the near future,” Mafuvise said.