By Munyaradzi Madzokere
Veteran Zimbabwe Gems captain Perpetua Siyachitema is set to bring her international career to a close at the end of the historic Vitality netball World Cup appearance in England next month.
It has been a fruitful career spanning two decades for Siyachitema and the World Cup — which runs from July 12-21 at the M&S Bank Arena in Liverpool — enables her to achieve the last of national team goals.
But what the 36-year-old wing attack is certain about is that this will be her last tournament as a player and she harbours dreams of returning one day as a coach for the senior team.
“I am 36 now and this is my final tournament for the national team and my target is to improve our world ranking from number 13 to top eight at the end of the World Cup,” Siyachitema told The Sports Hub.
Siyachitema has been a permanent feature in the Zimbabwe netball team and has captained the side since 2011.
She is one of the key players in the side that will be making a debut appearance at the global netball tournament in Group A alongside world champions Australia, Sri Lanka and Northern Ireland.
But before that, Siyachitema took time to reflect on her lengthy netball journey.
“I started playing netball when I was nine at primary school and I started playing in the super league when I was just 16. I never really thought that one day I would get this far with the sport,” She revealed.
“Interestingly, I used to play both basketball and netball, so if I had not been a professional netball player I was going to pursue basketball,” she added.
Born and bred in Chitungwiza, Siyachtema commenced her education at Seke 12 Primary School before proceeding to Seke 5 High and Seke 3 High.
It was at these schools that she honed her netball skills.
In club netball, Siyachitema has been around and has won virtually everything there is to win on the local scene.
Siyachitema’s first club was Matiza Queens from Chitungwiza in 1999 before she joined another Chitungwiza-based side Honde Queens in 2001.
In 2002 she played for Telecel Queens 2002, then ZRP PPU Harare between 2003 and 2006.
The Zimbabwe captain also played for Gaths Mine Queens in Mashava, Trojan Mine Queens, Railstars in Bulawayo, ZPC Hwange and is currently player/coach at Glow Petroleum Queens.
“From 2002 to 2011 all the clubs I played for were winning the championship,” she said.
Despite being recognised as a top player, Siyachitema has already established herself as a reputable netball coach in Zimbabwe.
“I started my coaching career in 2012 when I joined Glow Petroleum and took them from number seven to second place in one year. The following year we won the title.
“I was appointed the assistant coach for the national team, Under-20 and Under-21. I was part of the technical team that took the Under-21s to the World Cup qualifiers and qualified for the Junior World Cup. The Under-21 team is currently ranked number nine in the world,” Siyachitema said.
Siyachitema is relishing the chance to coach the Gems one day and take them to another World Cup.
“I have been with the national team since 2009 and have captained the side since 2011. I want to be the Gems senior team coach one day and share my experiences with the young girls. I would also want to achieve great things like taking them to the World Cup,” she said.
“Netball has made me popular and has given me employment and the opportunity to travel to different countries going as far as Hong Kong. I am grateful to the Zimbabwe netball Association for giving me the platform,” Siyachitema added.
While many were surprised when the Gems qualified for the World Cup, Siyachitema somehow knew that the moment would come and was close by.
“With the way we have been improving our world rankings, I knew that one day we would get there and here we are,” she said.