Move to US is my chance to shine: teen star

Pauline Chawafambira, who was recently awarded a four-year scholarship to Eastern Arizona College in the United States, is optimistic of bagging an international trophy in the near future.

Pauline Chawafambira: All that talent going to waste.
Pauline Chawafambira: All that talent going to waste.

The Mantas Tennis Academy student, whose strength on the tennis court and incredible personality saw her rise up the sporting ladder, said the move to the US was her first step towards becoming a professional tennis player.

She said the move provided an opportunity for her to fulfil and celebrate her achievements and demystify the conventional public mind-set that certain sports are for the elite. “Winners never quit and those that quit never win. If you do not take advantage of existing opportunity to unlock your potential, you miss a 100 percent chance to excel and realise your dreams come true,” said the sensational 19-year-old.

“I am number 221 on the world rankings. I believe this opportunity presents a platform for me to play college tennis in the US and expose myself to the international community, which in turn will see me go up the ladder in the world rankings,” said Chawafambira.

She is optimistic about coming back to her home country armoured with professional training, coaching and expertise that she can pass onto the younger generation as a way of increasing the visibility of the country internationally in tennis.

“I am going to work hard because this scholarship presents me an opportunity to expose myself to the outside world,” said Chawafambira. The fourth born in a family of three boys and two girls, she did her primary education at Dangamvura school before moving to Mutare Girls High where she finished her Ordinary levels in 2012.

She recalled how her English teacher motivated her to love tennis. “Mrs Mukono would take her time to motivate and teach me the basics of tennis,” she said. “Although I had started playing tennis at the age of four at Dangamvura primary school together with my brother Tatenda, my teacher nurtured that interest which later saw me join the tennis academy,” she said.

With several trophies to her name some of which include landing the title in the 2013 Zambia, Malawi and Botswana Open competitions , Chawafambira called for more support towards sporting initiatives in the country.

“Sports development is not government responsibility alone and there is need for more sponsors to come on board and assist in strengthening the discipline,” she said. “The private sector should work hand in glove with government especially at the grassroots level because children from disadvantaged background are talented but because their talent is not discovered. All that talent goes to waste.”

She attributes her success in tennis to her determination and persistence to achieving excellence. She believes that young girls and women should be focused towards targeted goals and should never look back despite their circumstances.

“Parents should support their children if they show that they are interested in sports, regardless of their gender,” said Chawafambira, adding that she is where she is because of the support she got from her family.

“Young girls should stay focused on set targets and they should be disciplined and not do things that will divert them from being successful,” she said. “I was groomed to believe in myself and never give up . I believe that every young girI should put 110 percent effort in everything she does and be principled. Their dreams will come true,” said Chawafambira.

She won the 2013 Manicaland Open tournament, and was the runner up in the singles at the African Junior Championship in Nigeria in 2012. She was the winner of the Gauteng Open in South Africa in 2012 and the Under 18 circuits Runner Up in Namibia 2012.

The government, through the education ministry, has crafted the Community Sport Development Programme to ensure the uptake of sporting and recreational activities by marginalised communities throughout the country.

Implemented in the country’s 20 districts through the District Sport Development Committees made up of volunteers and strategic individuals, the initiative was funded by the UNICEF Zimbabwe and the Norwegian Olympic and Paralympic Committee. It ended in 2012.

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