There’s no substitute for hard work: Netball coach
LESOTHO sports teams often fare badly in international tournaments because of the lack of proper development structures to groom athletes from an early age.
There may be ray of light as one man has embarked on a mission to coach and develop young talent at schools level
Shanduka Munyaradzi (47) is a netball coach who has led his charges to seven Lesotho Institutions Sports Association (LISA) netball titles since he started coaching in the country in 2011 at St Barnabas High School.
In this wide ranging interview the Zimbabwean, who is currently in charge of Leqele High School netball team, recently spoke to Sunday Express (SE) Sports Reporter, Moorosi Tsiane, about all the milestones which other coaches have failed to achieve.
Below are excerpts of the interview.
SE: Last week before the LISA finals you were so determined to set a new record in girls’ netball. How did you accomplish that?
Munyaradzi: I am the happiest man because I broke my own record. I was already the first coach to have won the tournament in three consecutive years with one school while I was coaching St Barnabas and so I won it for the fourth consecutive season with Leqele. I am the first coach to win it on seven successive occasions (three with St Barnabas and four with Leqele).
And as the cherry on top, I have been appointed national under 17 coach for the upcoming COSASA Games to be staged in Lesotho at the end of this month.
SE: When and why did you decide to coach netball which is considered a female sport?
Munyaradzi: I arrived in Lesotho in 2007, not as a teacher but an expert on sexually transmitted infections (STI). It took four years to land my first coaching job when St Barnabas appointed me. We won this tournament in my first year and continued to do so until I left them for Leqele at the start of 2014.
My first netball training was in 1993 in England and in Wales.
I am the only boy and the last born in a family of nine children. Growing up, my sisters often took me to netball matches and that is how it all began.
SE: What is your secret to success?
Munyaradzi: It may look easy but it is draining and calls for hard work, dedication and commitment and most importantly, discipline.
SE: Since you are not a teacher, how do you strike a balance between your work and coaching?
Munyaradzi: I love the sport and I always try to make time for sports. While others go out to have fun, I choose netball because I am happy to help our kids grow to become better players.
SE: Is it difficult to work with the girl child as a man?
Munyaradzi: I am a father to all my players and I value to that. A coach who end up having affairs with his players to me lacks morals and such people should never be allowed anywhere near our children. A coach must be over protective of his players instead of taking advantage of them.
It is not easy to win parents’ trust us but I always do my best to win their confidence and assure them their children are in safe hands.
SE: Are there any challenges that you come across?
Munyaradzi: As long as you are professional and maintain a firm grip as a coach, then there won’t be a serious challenges.
SE: You took your team to South Africa and Zimbabwe during the winter holidays where they played different clubs. How did that help them in last weekend finals?
Munyaradzi: To be honest, I don’t see any competition in the country for my current team so I was using the tour to prepare them for the league matches and also for the upcoming COSASA games because that is where our credentials will be put to a real test.
This is where we have to prove ourselves and also as an international netball coach I would like to add this one competition to my decorated CV.
SE: Given the seven years that you have been coaching in Lesotho, what can you say about the level of sport in the country?
Munyaradzi: The only problem that I see is that there is less attention paid to the development of sport in Lesotho and that is one of the biggest reasons we are struggling once we step outside our borders. The nation and administrators usually expects results at senior level without investing in the juniors and there is no way we can achieve that.
SE: What do you want to be remembered for by the sporting community?
Munyaradzi: Right now it is not all about what I want as a person but it is about what the nation wants and what we are doing to achieve that. I may want certain things only to find there are not in the interest of the country. So the biggest question is whether or not there any plans for the development of sports because that is the only way to start.
SE: Have you ever discussed your concerns with the Lesotho Netball Association (LNA)?
Munyaradzi: I have and we sit and discuss how best we can come out of our challenges. LNA has lined up development programmes but they need funding and that is where the challenge is. Government must prioritise sport.
SE: You always do well but how do you manage this since high school players always come and go?
Munyaradzi: I am one person who really believes in development when it comes to sport and that has kept me going all these years. The successes are the results of hard work in developing new players every year.
Every year I start a team of Form A’s and they graduate into the senior team on the basis of individual performances so whenever we lose a player for whatever reasons there are always replacements.