From Chipo Sabeta in Liverpool, England
AUSTRALIAN-based netball player Joice “Marcopolo” Takaidza says motherhood didn’t ‘kill’ her passion for netball.
Takaidza said she is inspired by the support she gets from her husband and three kids aged 14, 11 and three years respectively.
Takaidza, a goal shooter and Adelaide Muswe, a goal defender, are two of Zimbabwe’s top stars playing in countries with the best netball leagues (Australia and England respectively) where they are gaining invaluable experience against some of the world’s best players.
“I am here because of the support my family gives me. We live in Australia and netball is taken seriously. Everything is professional when it comes to sport and I didn’t want to waste my talent,” the 36-year-old lanky shooter said.
“I started playing netball at primary school and in High school in Zvishavane. My husband understood my passion for sport and that I was good at netball. When we relocated to Australia, I pursued my passion. It’s been nine years and I am still playing.”
“My family is very supportive and I know they will be following these games,” Takaidza added.
The Vitality Netball World Cup (NWC) starts tomorrow (on July 12), with 16 teams competing for the ultimate prize, concluding with the final on July 21.
The Gems will kick-off their NWC at the giant M&S Arena against Sri Lanka in the preliminary round of the NWC on Friday 12, against a 19th ranked, Sri Lanka and the 2018 Asian Championships.
Takaidza says despite her resilience and passion, she has had a fair share of challenges during pregnancy and breast-feeding periods.
She insists motherhood is yet to be embraced by the sport.
“It’s a challenge but resilience has taken me this far. It’s always difficult during pregnancy and that’s why women are generally under-represented in sport. In some sporting codes and countries in America players are allowed to bring their children to tournaments and training camps, and are given financial support to cover associated childcare costs.
“I hope the sporting world will embrace motherhood and accommodate more women,” she said.
With a height advantage (1,86) Takaidza is likely to be starting ahead of other goal shooters Pauline Jani and Sharon Bwanali.
From the build-up training sessions and friendly match this week, she is likely to play alongside goal attacker Ursula Ndlovu.
“All is set for us and we are here to compete. I will try my best to help my Zimbabwe. The honour (to be included in the squad) humbled me and I believe the team has what it takes to compete. We must play as a team and communicate during game time,” Takaidza.
The other teams in the Gems’ group are reigning champions, Australia ranked first and Northern Ireland on ninth position. They will play against these sides on July 13 and 14 respectively.
The Gems, one of the five nations from the African continent, seek to make their way through the early rounds of the tournament and will look to capitalise on their ‘unknown tag’ against higher ranked teams.
PRELIMINARY FIXTURES (ZIM/LOCAL TIME)
Zimbabwe v Sri Lanka; 11:25am
Australia v Zimbabwe; 8am
Northern Ireland v Zimbabwe 14:25pm