Ex-stars keep Mufakose tennis legacy alive

BY MUNYARADZI MADZOKERE

WHEN Albert Nhamoyebonde, decided to introduce the game of tennis in the high-density suburb of Mufakose, many underestimated the impact it would bring to the community.

Single-handedly he produced hundreds of professional players and coaches over two decades following the establishment of the Mufakose Tennis Coaching Agency in 1984.

And now at least 80 of Nhamoyebonde’s products led by reputable veteran coaches such as Richmore Murape, Lazarus Manjoro, Derrick Manyange and Martin Dzuwa to mention but a few, have taken it upon themselves to revive the sport in Mufakose.

For the past three weeks, the coaches have been training kids from the high-density suburb at Rutendo Hall and the response has already been overwhelming.

“For the past three weeks we have been coaching children from the community every weekend with the help of different coaches. At the start we had about 30 kids and the number rose to over 50 and the last time we attracted at least 70. The numbers continue to grow, so I can safely say the response has been overwhelming,” head of coaching Dzuwa told The Sports Hub.

“As time goes on, we are going to take a few of the players who would have shown a lot of promise to Harare Sports Club to train them on proper tennis facilities. The idea is just to motivate them,” Dzuwa added.

The initiative, which seeks to eventually establish a tennis centre in the community is being steered by a number of former players and coaches who hail from Mufakose dotted around the globe.

US-based coaches such as Julius Mashonganyika, Andrew Mawire and Anthony Harris are part of the project as well as Peter Nyamande, Masimba Muchenje and Hilton Nyakabau who are coaching in Kenya.

Interestingly, Mawire and Harris had players competing at the US Open this year. Wisdon Ngoma is in England while Charles Nechironga and Emmanuel Panganai are in South Africa.

“We are a group from Mufakose and we have all benefited from this community and we want to give back. Nhamoyebonde gave us a chance and now we want to give these children a chance as well. You never know some may excel far much better than we did in our tennis careers,” Dzuwa said.

“I also think this will go a long way in keeping the young people away from drugs and substance abuse over time. It is also a big employment opportunity for those who fail to play professionally because they can still go on to become coaches like all of us,” he said.

While the group is currently working on establishing formal structures, efforts are also being made to refurbish some of the dilapidated tennis infrastructure in the community.

There used to be two tennis courts at Runyararo Hall which are currently in a sorry state while four tennis courts at Mufakose High 2 formerly used by Mufakose Tennis Coaching Agency need some renovations.

Tennis Zimbabwe (TZ) president Biggie Magarira, who has been preaching focus on junior development since he took over late last year, visited the recently refurbished Mufakose project. Dzuwa hopes that their project will have a ripple effect and move coaches from other areas to do the same in their areas.

“For us we are focusing on Mufakose, but it is our hope that outside coaches can try to emulate what we are doing and do it in the places they come from. It is a start and we are leading the way.

“We don’t have to wait for Harare province to do such developmental initiatives. We have seen similar projects in Mutare where Genius Chidzikwe came from and Emakhandeni in Bulawayo as well as Gilbert Mafara doing it in Mbare,” he said.

Select Healthcare and other well-wishers have been offering refreshments and masks to the children so far.

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