BY MUNYARADZI MADZOKERE
WHEN she enrolled for primary school, at David Livingstone in Harare, Charity Mucucuti was taller than most of her peers.
They laughed and teased her because of her height.
And in her heart she was desperate to prove that her height was not such a bad thing and she knew what she had to do. She had to become a basketball player.
Mucucuti immediately excelled in the sport and was already strutting her stuff for Cameo, one of the best teams then, when she was a mere Form 2 pupil.
Today the lanky multi-talented female athlete is one of the most decorated basketball and rugby players in the country.
She is also a swimming coach at the Kirsty Coventry Academy.
The 25-year-old athlete, who is in the twilight of her career for Harare City Hornets in basketball and Old Hararians in rugby, reflects on her journey in sports.
“I remember that I was already very tall when I was in primary school. Other pupils would laugh at me because of my height and it made me feel uncomfortable in my skin. I was as tall as a Grade Seven kid when I was only in Grade Three,” Mucucuti told The Sports Hub.
“I think that’s what pushed me to play basketball because that’s the only sport that celebrated tall people. And luckily for me I excelled in the sport and went on to play for some of the best teams in the country as well as represent the country,” she said.
When she started, the dreams were not so lofty. All she wanted was to play for Cameo which was one of the best clubs in the country.
But national team selectors could not ignore her as she made the national under-15 side before she eventually made the senior team.
“When I was young my dream was to play for Cameo and I managed to achieve that dream when I was in secondary school at Morgan High. It was not easy to break into the first team that had seasoned players such as Gladys Phiri and Beauty Masunda among other national team players,” Mucucuti said.
Mucucuti went on to play for Stanbic Mavericks as well as Varsity Leopards and has won a countless number of individual accolades and league titles.
Currently, Mucucuti is a league champion with Harare City Hornets, who won the national league as well as the Harare Basketball League.
Harare City have also represented the country at the Africa championships in recent years.
As for rugby, it was never a sport that she loved when she was young. In fact, she only started playing it when she was 21.
“It was during a basketball off-season when seasoned coach Abigail Kawonze invited our basketball team to come play rugby just to keep fit. And because I love contact sport, I fell in love with rugby and I have never stopped playing since.
“It has been an honour to also represent the country in rugby. I remember when I started playing for the national team we were ranked 10th in Africa and I left the team ranked third in Africa. It’s something that makes me proud,” Mucucuti revealed.
Mucucuti is part of the pioneering Zimbabwe women rugby team that included the likes of Precious Pazani, Abigail Gondo, Lucia Marisamhuka and Patience Chinhoyi.
But how did Mucucuti become a swimming coach?
“I met (Sports minister) Kirsty Coventry when we went for the 2007 All Africa Games and we became good friends. And when she started her project she invited me to volunteer as an admin.
“I was already a decent swimmer because of the primary school that I went to, but as far as coaching is concerned I learnt a lot from watching Coventry do it.
I then decided to get my Level 1 coaching certificate and I have been coaching at the academy for three years now,” she said.
Mucucuti also has a rugby Level 2 coaching badge.
Basketball and rugby have given Mucucuti fame but not so much fortune, but she reckons she will never be able to choose one over the other.
Her desire is to see female athletes being recognised and supported just like their male counterparts in the country.
“From my experience I don’t think the country believes in female athletes and teams. Rarely do you see women national teams get corporate support as compared to men while most of the women leagues do not have support. It’s one thing I would love to see change in Zimbabwe sport,” she said.