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The Day We Played Chipinda in the Inter-schools Competition.

By Nyaradzayi Gumbonzvanda*

I could feel the excitement in the air, a month to the date. Headmaster Sango in his cool voice made the announcement at assembly. The zonal schools sport day is coming up, and Magaya has been chosen to host the first round, and we will play Chipinda at home ground. Quarters finals will be at Hoyuyu, Semis at Zhombwe and finals of course will go to Murewa Center.

Life just changed from that moment at my primary school. I was in the netball team, and teacher Chirimuta was the trainer.

We trained before class in the morning, we trained pa-break and palunch, we trained even on Saturdays. We were exempt from school work because we had to go for training. School work included watering the school garden, cutting grass, picking papers, cleaning the toilets, classrooms and staffroom. I would have preferred school work, the training was tough.

VaChirumuuta would be heard shouting in training \"MAka partner! Dodge, nzvenga. PASS the ball, pass the ball! Piriiiiiiii, and the whistle would blow...Out\". We would go home tired, very tired actually. No excuse, we still had to go water the garden, do home work and assist with household chores.

The excitement was growing even at home. Together with my sisters we were in the team. My best friend Auxillia Mamvura who was slim and tall like me was in the team. We decided to have our hair plaited the same style, for the fun of it and inwardly we thought we would confuse the other team. We had this red uniform that you wore like overalls. The pant was not sewn together with the blouse, and had some flaps/apron style in the front and back. We looked smart and felt good. We had no shoes.

The actua day never seemed to arrive. My mother woke up so early to prepare for the big day. It was going to be good business. She brought with her a scotch-cart full of sugar cane, nzimbe, masvinga nemasvinga. Baskets of bananas and cucumbers. I was very happy because I would introduce her to my friends, bring a little business to her, and at the same time I knew she would be there to come and watch me play.

We arrived at school very early on the sports day. Teacher Chirimuuta would again go round the netball pitch inspecting that all is well. The netball pitch lines had been redone. Some water mixed with ashes to create whitish pain was used mark the lines and make them more visible. People would argue whether to bury kanyimo near the netball ring so that the other team will not score. It was all a myth.

As we milled around, waiting, running around and just excited, we heard the sound of the lorry and singing. Chipinda team had arrived. It was around 0930am. They looked confident and ready to take the trophy home. Their singing was louder than our singing, because most of our people were yet to arrive from their homes. They waved handkerchiefs and jerseys in the air. The young men walked with a bounce, and the girls were in twos and threes. They were given a classroom to put their food stuffs.

I went to greet a few people I knew from the other team who were my relatives. They were friendly although equally nervous. They wanted to know who was on our team. We giggled and whispered. It was a good day. The B teams played first, starting with netball, then football. After lunch was the A teams. There was tension and excitement.

I was too anxious to eat manhuchu we had brought from home. I told my friend that I will eat after the game, and just managed a banana. Lunch was again the moment friendships and socialisation. We could see very special relationships forming. Special food was prepared for the teachers, they ate together and shared notes.

We thrashed Chipinda that afternoon. I was in grade six. We were smaller and younger girls, and their team had much older girls. The singing because louder as we dropped in the ball in the net. Teacher Chirumuta was referee for the second half, while Chipinda teacher had handled the first half of the game. No neutral referee for rural primary schools. Teacher Chirimuta was dramatic. He would run around the pitch following the ball, and with little dance.

With the last whistle blown in style, we all jumped up and down rolled, hugs and were simply happy. Some brought water in buckets to pour on our heads and cool off. We each got an orange, and a cup of mazowe orange juice in plastic mugs.

I looked around and saw my mother smiling, talking and selling her bananas. I came to her with pride and said \"regai ndikubatsirei ndapetsa bhora\". We were happy.

Nyaradzayi Gumbonzvanda is the founder and chairperson of Rozaria Memorial Trust in owner of her late mother, and is the current General Secretary of the World YWCA.

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