A netball coach whose first love was basketball Gems coach Lloyd Makunde

Ellina Mhlanga Senior Sports Reporter

AFTER leading the Gems to their maiden World Cup appearance in 2019, one would have thought netball has always been coach Lloyd Makunde’s passion.

Surprisingly, it was not his favourite sport.

His first love was basketball.

Makunde (48), who started off as a medic, only became a netball coach by default in 1997.

“It so happened that there was a Division Two netball club based in Tafara, coached by the now Correctional Queens gaffer, Christopher Simeon,’’ he said.

“I was the team medic for the Division Two side, as I was a holder of a first aid and home nursing certificate,

“Then, in 1997, Simeon got a job with the Prison Services and left for training, leaving the coach’s position vacant.

“The then Tafara Sport for All Association asked me to fill in, as I was a basketball coach, because they said the sport codes were almost similar.

“I (initially) refused, since I didn’t know anything about netball. Then, during the Tafara Sports for All Association’s weekly meeting, I was actually ordered to train the team.

“The meeting was held on a Wednesday so there were two days left before Saturday’s game.’’

He knew he simply had to follow orders.

“I then trained with the team on Thursday, and Friday, and went for a game and we won that game,’’ he said.

“When we came back I told them that I am not going to continue coaching the team since my heart was in basketball.

“But the late Solomon Masunda, the then social worker, would not have any of it. He eventually convinced me to carry on.”

He started attending workshops, and coaching courses, to equip himself for the job.

At the end of the season, in 1997, the team was promoted into the First Division and they had a good season, losing only two matches.

That saw them earning their place in the National Super League in 1999.

They then received sponsorship and changed their name to Marowa Rangers, naming the club after their sponsor.

“I am a holder of the World Netball intermediate certificate and Africa Coaching Grade C,’’ he said.

“Whenever I have the opportunity, I attend online courses and also interact with international coaches, especially with Dan Ryan of Australia.

“The World Cup was a real turning point for me.

“I had the opportunity to talk to the best coaches in the world and learnt a lot from them and just playing there helped me a lot.”

Makunde is married to Shupikayi and they have two children — Albert and Nyasha.

“My wife always tells me to go out there and do my job perfectly and nothing else,’’ he said.

“I met her when I was coaching netball and she understood and accepted it, before we got married.

“Many teams worldwide have female coaches and sometimes male coaches are looked down upon.

“But, it’s a challenge for me to scale greater heights.”

Shupikayi is supportive of her husband and says she used to attend his games when he used to coach in the league.

“When I met Lloyd, he was already into netball. I never had a problem with it, even when we got married, because I knew it from the beginning,’’ she said.

“Actually, I used to work at Marowa Supermarket, while he was coaching Marowa Rangers. We would travel with the team as supporters, that’s how we met.

“Of course, you get a bit jealousy here and there, because of the nature of his job, but I realised that it’s his job and nothing else.

‘’He is so passionate about it and we support him a lot as a family. I used to attend his games when he was still coaching in the league but it’s been a while now.

“When I heard they were going to the World Cup, I was so happy because I had seen his talent and passion, for netball.

“We were following all the matches and also praying for him to do well with the team.

“He is a loving husband, he loves his family and always does his best for his family. I am grateful for that.”

Qualifying for the 2019 World Cup in Liverpool, England, and playing at the competition remain Makunde’s best moments so far. His desire is to win a gold medal at an international competition with the Gems.

Makunde was born and bred in Tafara. He attended Tsinhirano Primary School and Tafara 2 High School.

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