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Women’s rugby star retraces basketball roots

ZIMBABWE Women’s Sevens rugby team captain, Charity Mucucuti will temporarily trade the oval-shaped rugby ball for the spherical inflated basketball after being named in the 12-member national women’s basketball team for the Fiba Women’s AfroBasket 2017 Zone 6 qualifiers to be held in Mozambique from March 3 to 12.

BY DANIEL NHAKANISO

Charity Mucucuti [in ball possession] in action for the national Women’s Sevens rugby team

Charity Mucucuti [in ball possession] in action for the national Women’s Sevens rugby team

The 33-year-old 1,78m power forward, who last featured for the national basketball side in 2015, will be eager to help the Zimbabwe side in their quest to qualify for the AfroBasket Championships to be held in Mali from September 15-24.

In an interview with Standardsport last week, Mucucuti said she was excited to be back representing Zimbabwe in basketball and was confident the team would do well at the regional qualifiers.

“It feels great and humbling to be back in the national basketball team again. It shows how much effort I’ve put in terms of developing myself as a player to gain the trust of the coaches ahead of this important tournament.

“It’s every player’s dream to play for the national team and with the help of my teammates, I hope we will give it our best shot and qualify for the Afrobasket finals and make Zimbabwe proud,” she said.

Although she’s now more commonly known as a rugby player, “Chocky”, as Mucucuti is affectionately known, was a star basketball player at school.

She represented both the junior and senior national schools teams before graduating to the local club basketball scene where she featured for the then all conquering Cameo Basketball Club aged only 15 years-old.

After establishing herself in local club basketball and senior national team level, Mucucuti was one of the several promising women’s basketball players who crossed the floor to rugby, joining other former national basketball team players Precious Pazani, Abigail Gondo, Lucia Marisamhuka and Patience Chinhoyi.

“I have always played basketball from primary school at a very young age because I was tall, but I also used to play rugby during the basketball offseason break. Abigail Kawonza [women’s rugby administrator] approached me to come and try rugby and I only trained for four days and made the national team,” she recalled.

Now at 33, she will be one of the most experienced members in the team together with United States-based captain Alexandra Maseko.

Besides playing rugby and basketball, Mucucuti recently teamed up with retired swimming star, Kirsty Coventry as a volunteer in her swimming academy project.

“The Kirsty Coventry Academy doesn’t only focus on swimming, but other programmes and this is where I come in with the volunteer programme which is made up of motivated, passionate and patriotic volunteers who want to help communities throughout Zimbabwe by running outreach campaigns to raise awareness for health and educating people on issues including cancer, water-safety and drowning prevention,” she said. Mucucuti’s immediate focus however, will be to help Zimbabwe qualify for the women’s continental basketball championships.

Zimbabwe squad: Yolanda Matayataya, Geraldine Chibonda, Stabile Ngandini, Sibongile Mkandla, Melissa Majonga, Emma Makoni, Francisca Sekete, Getrude Mapiye, Dorcas Marondera, Charity Mucucuti, Margaret Kanyimo, Alexandra Maseko
Coach: Erinous Katsaruware
Assistant Coach: Mxolisi Ndlovu
Assistant Coach: Vivian Vareta,
Team Manager: Charmaine Chirinda

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