Shelly Guni, Sports Reporter
THAT Gems’ shooter Joice Mada-Takaidza has been nominated for the ZimAchievers Awards is a true testimony of perseverance in her career having to overcome some of the toughest challenges life has thrown at her.
This determination pales into insignificance when compared to the biggest mountain she has had to climb which mirrors a great deal about her character that has seen her relocating to Australia where she now stays with husband Admire and their three kids Takunda, Tatenda and Tafadzwa.
Her story is no less touching, her circumstances no less eventful that when, rather than if, she go on to win one of the award in the two categories she was nominated, it will be another chapter of success in rising above her circumstances.
Born in Masvingo 35 years ago to a builder, life was quickly turned upside down as a young girl as his father could no longer secure building contracts due to the economic hardships prevailing at that time. As a result, it became a struggle to earn ends meet for the family.
Takaidza recalls days when they would go to bed on empty stomach while wearing second hand clothes at the same time walking to school bare footed resulting in her learning to survive as best she could.
“I grew up in Masvingo. My father was a builder so growing up everything was fine as he could get contracts. However, things changed, life became so hard for me and my family, sometimes we would sleep without eating anything but you would see that the parents are trying,” revealed Takaidza.
“I used to wear second hand clothes donated by well wishes. I would go to school bare footed. Things were so bad. Despite all that I have never thought of giving up on life but to keep fighting for the better and today here I am.”
Takaidza never really saw herself playing netball. In fact what’s more remarkable is that she didn’t choose netball, apparently, the sport chose her. Her first steps in netball came at Pamushana High School in 1998 when her height which stands at 1.92m earned her a place in school’s netball team.
The 35- year would go on to represent her school in the inter-provincial tournament marking the beginning of consuming passion that would see her joining Gathsmine in 2003 after finishing school in a journey that would take her to Diamond Series 2010.
It was during her days at Gathsmine that Takaidza met a graduate trainee, who studied Mining Engineering, Admire, and would soon become his husband during that same year. By the time Takaidza left for Australia in 2010 she had played for Zimplats Queens, ZDF Queens and Renaissance Queens.
“In fact I represented the country in the Under-20 squad when we played Mozambique in 2002. My progress though was slowed down due to some family commitments. We then left the country in 2010 to relocate here in Australia.”
In Australia, Takaidza has been playing in the lower leagues, and it took her good 10 years for her to return to the Gems’ fold when she was included in the squad ahead of the 2019 Netball World Cup in Liverpool, England in July.
Her inclusion was, however, met with mixed feelings.
“It was not easy when I arrived for to join my teammates and prepare for the World Cup. There incidents when I felt out place. There were some talks of me not a competent player. Also the training facilities made it difficult for me,” she said.
But there was no better way to silence her critics as she went on to play an integral role at the World Cup for the Gems chipping in with crucial goals that would guide Zimbabwe to a remarkable eighth place finish.
“Being named in the first seven proved a lot, it showed that the coaches had faith in me that I will deliver to which I did, we won our first game and that boosted my confidence for the reminder of the tournament,” she said.
“Finishing eight at the World Cup was not expected, it was our first time and coming in as underdogs other teams thought we would finish last but after winning our first game we had so much confident that we would win.”
Takaidza would also make the grade for the Gems team that finished fourth at the recently African Championships in South Africa.
And today, Takaidza is looking to reach a goal that is as remarkable as her life story after nominated for the ZimAchievers Awards in the Sports Personality of the Year and People’s Choice Awards in Australia.
The awards are for Australia-based Zimbabweans who excel in their different trades.
“I can say hand on heart that this year has probably been the best time I have had in my career. I never thought that I would play at the top level. I always wanted to be the best netballer,” she said.
“I feel honoured and to be nominated for the ZimAchievers awards. When things like these come, you will never think of quitting this is the greatest achievement for me. I just pray I will be awarded for all my hard work, I have never dreamt of such but I can say it’s by God’s Grace.”