Fear drives Kwaramba to stardom

HARARE – Handball was Claris Kwaramba’s first love but a threat of punishment made her switch to netball and little did she know that this would be her path to stardom.

The Platinum Queens wing defender was only 10 years old doing her Grade Five studies at Tsvingwe Primary School in Mutare when she was forced to change her sporting code.

While coming from a handball training session, Kwaramba bumped into a certain Gambinga, who was the schools netball coach.

The teacher had spotted something special in Kwaramba and ordered her to report for netball training the following day.

Although handball was her number one priority then, Gambinga had made it clear that failure to show up at netball practice would result in Kwaramba facing severe manual punishment.

Such a threat for a Grade Five pupil will always instil fear and Kwaramba had no choice but abide by the order. 

Looking back at that chance encounter with the netball coach, Kwaramba believes it was a blessing in disguise.

She has risen to become one of the vitals cogs of the Zimbabwe national netball team which recently qualified for the 2019 World Cup following a good run at the Africa World Cup Qualifiers held in Lusaka, Zambia last month.

Now 18 and doing her “A” Level studies at Pamushana High school in Masvingo, Kwaramba reflects back on her entry into netball.

“It was by coincidence,” Kwaramba tells the Daily News on Sunday. “I was a handball player back then, I was only 10 and my first netball coach Gambinga called me when I was coming from a handball session.

“He said my height and my handball skills could make me a good netball player. He even threatened that he was going to punish me if I didn’t join netball...that is how all the legacy began, all thanks to him.

“We lost contact back then but I wish to thank him one day for identifying my talent.”

After completing her primary education, she proceeded to Tsvingwe High School where she excelled in netball and was selected into the team for the National Youth Games and the Cossasa Games as well.

“My mentor Simbarashe Mlambo who was also my coach in the Cossasa and national team then, offered me a scholarship at Pamushana where he is also the coach as well,” she said.

“This was an advantage to me since it opened all doors for me. I started playing for Mutare Queens and currently I’m playing for Platinum Queens.

“My coach selected me to be part of the Platinum Queens family and to be honest this club has increased my skill, confidence and commitment to netball.

“I meet many people and other skilled players, I’m learning a lot here. My contract, however, expires in December but I have faith that they are going to offer me another contract.

“I haven’t considered the idea of playing in regional or foreign leagues but it sounds great.”

Helping Zimbabwe qualify for the World Cup to be held in Liverpool, England next year has brought a lot of satisfaction for the teenager, who is competing with much older players for a place in the Gems squad.

“I was very happy and I’m still ecstatic about it. I couldn’t believe it to be honest,” she said. “It was very difficult for me to adapt and adjust especially being in the same team with the junior team coach (Perpetual Siyachitema).

“I was so scared but on the other side I felt honoured and I was proud of being part of the senior team at 18. She (Siyachitema) coached me last year when we went for the netball World Youth Cup in Botswana.

“It was of much great inspiration to me and my fellow teammates and more of a motivation to other people like me who think they cannot be as good as their masters.”

At the World Cup, Kwaramba hopes to enhance her game and hopefully help the team reach the later stages of the competition.

“I expect to learn a lot and improve my netball skills (at the World Cup). I also expect to win those competitions. We are going to fight against all odds to win that competition and do my country proud,” she declared.

Kwaramba draws her inspiration from Correctional Services Queens player and gems vice-captain Felistas Kwanga and New Zealand international Maria Tutaia.

After finishing her high schooling, she is considering a career in journalism as well.

“I’m interested in journalism who knows you can be my inspiration too,” Kwaramba signed off.