HATCLIFFE High School in Harare is just like any other school in the high-density suburbs with students indulging in normal teenage activities, sharing everyday struggles of poverty and harsh life.
BY ALBERT MARUFU
With two soccer pitches and netball courts, the school is a typical high-density suburb school where sporting disciplines such as soccer and athletics are common.
However, unlike other high-density schools, the school, perhaps influenced by proximity to the leafy Borrowdale suburb, adopted the elitist sport of golf with its two football pitches serving as the golf course.
Though the pitches pale in comparison to the nearby 18 hole and Par 72 6201m Borrowdale Golf Course, an international armature champion has been born from this makeshift golf course.
The recently crowned Nigeria IBB Ladies Open champion, Yolanda Mubaiwa, takes pride in having cut her teeth at this “course” as a 14-year-old in 2006.
“It has not been an easy journey for me winning my first international tournament. I started golf with Aunty Jessie [Nyakatawa] in 2006 with a handicap of 36, but now I have a handicap of three. There were many girls when we started and some dropped out but with the encouragement of my sister Faith, I soldiered on. It has always been my dream to win an international tournament,” said Mubaiwa, who is now in the ladies committee at Royal Harare Golf Club.
“I have won a number of local tournaments, but winning in Nigeria gave me a sense of self belief. My hope is to turn professional in two years’ time. It is my dream to play in the Sunshine Tour in South Africa. I am also happy to have represented Zimbabwe in some international tournaments,” he said.
Mubaiwa, who is being sponsored by the Royal Harare Golf Club until she turns 25, said she needed more competition in order to improve.
“I can’t say there is no competition locally, but I need more exposure. The main challenge we face is lack of sponsorship. Armature golf involves a lot of travelling and without money, you go nowhere. I am grateful to Royal Harare Golf Club who have been sponsoring me since 2008,” she said.
“The sport is very elitist. Everything is expensive. I am lucky that I started at a young age and got the Royal Harare Golf Club sponsorship. Others like my friend Batsirai Tilowakuti have not been so lucky despite all the talent,” said Mubaiwa.
“I have also received a lot of support from current Zimbabwe Ladies Golf Union (ZLGU) president Nancy Dube. She helps with almost everything that I need. Even the set that I am using now, I got it from her. With the win in Nigeria, I received a playing set, but I continue to use the one I got from her because she inspires me,” she said.
Mubaiwa, who currently lives with her sisters in Glen Norah, was born to Perpetua Mugunde and Buddywell Mubaiwa in 1992.
Her parents wanted a good education for their children, which they felt they could not get in Sanyati where they were based. So they sent young Yolanda to stay with her brother Wonder in Hatcliffe, where she enrolled at the local primary school.
However, while in Grade Five, she was transferred to Chegutu’s Pfupajena, but she again found herself back in Hatcliffe for her Form Two studies.
“I am glad Auntie Jessie introduced me to the sport. Right now I help her train the kids at Hatcliffe High School whenever I have time. That is how I started so I want the number to increase,” said Mubaiwa, who also works as a cosmetologist.
Nyakatsawa, who initiated the programme that saw the birth of players such as Mubaiwa, is happy with the young golfer’s performance.
“I live in Borrowdale and am a member of Borrowdale Brooke Golf Club. I started the programme at Hatcliffe High School in 2006 after realising that there were not enough members in ZLGU. That time I was the president and I thought of going to the grassroots.
“I am happy with what Mubaiwa has achieved. There is a lot of talent, but it is very difficult for them to make a breakthrough. A lot more could have excelled had it not been for lack of resources. Players like Tilowakuti easily come to mind,” she said.
Hatcliffe High School headmaster Thomas Chitonga said Mubaiwa was now a role model at the school due to her hard work and determination.
Mubaiwa on marriage
Like any woman, the 21-year-old who has also represented Zimbabwe at the A and B Triangular in 2010 and 2011, the Gilberson and Page tournament in 2011, prays that when she finally marries, the husband would allow her to continue playing golf.
“I know friends who have quit sport upon getting married. That is very unfortunate,” said Mubaiwa, who recently teamed up with Loice Chingono, Aulia Alfazema and Brenda Leeper to win the Chiredzi Interprovincial tournament for Harare Province.