Balancing pregnancy, school and sport Nyengeterai Guyo

Veronica Gwaze
WHENEVER one falls pregnant, generally society’s expectation is that it is time to give up on everything else and focus on motherhood or marriage.

Priorities change and some give up their other life to dedicate themselves to bringing up and providing for the child.

Sometimes it works out, but for others who may have dropped out of school, it becomes a life full of regrets.

Last week the Government enacted a new law that makes it possible for pregnant girls to return to school after they have delivered.

The new Act reminded of Harare City Hornets’ Centre, Charity Mucucuti who, against the odds in 2017, proved to be a woman of steel. She would not let pregnancy get in the way of her sporting dreams.

For 17 years Mucucuti, a national team rugby player and basketball starlet, has not missed a complete season, determined that pregnancy would not disrupt her love for sports.

After falling pregnant in 2017, she continued to play into her third trimester before taking a brief maternity break.

But just four months after giving birth to baby, Nicoline Kaweza, she was back on the courts.

“It is not that I do not understand what it means to be a mother. Basketball is my life and the child is my responsibility. I differentiate the two but the end result is the same — happiness,” she explained.

“It is possible to have it all and balance very well, which is just what I do. I remember playing the game and enjoying so much even in my last trimester.”

The former Cameo, Varsity Leopards and Vixens player believes the new law is a game-changer as it brings positives in education and sport.

Mucucuti started playing basketball during her Form One days at Morgan High School in the late 1990s.

A few months after giving birth, she was already back in shape, giving her opponents a torrid time.

During her maternity break Mucucuti, who is among the country’s most decorated basketball players, would remain engaged in workouts through yoga and light exercises.

“My life has been sport for decades. In fact, I have lost count of the trophies, medals and awards that I have under my belt in both sport codes. So, I simply could not let pregnancy throw away all that. In fact, I am raring for more.”

Among her many accolades, Mucucuti also won a title at senior level, when Zimbabwe scooped the now defunct Zinaboza crown in 2009. She also graced both the Afrobasket and All Africa Games with the senior national teams.

While motherhood is a huge role, Mucucuti says sportswomen should keep focus and be able to balance both.

Sports administrators, she believes, should consider running programmes that groom pregnant players psychologically as they brace for delivery and post-delivery times.

The Hornets’ centre is not alone. In 2017, Mighty Warriors and Harare City Football Queens’ striker, Rudo Neshamba, also defied the odds by defending her position after giving birth to a baby girl.

The dreadlocked swagger queen made a stylish return to the Mighty Warriors fold at last year’s Cosafa Women’s Championships in South Africa, where she emerged the national team’s top scorer.

She was also to graduate with a Diploma in Journalism and Communication Studies to disprove the stereotype that sportspersons are not fond of academics and that one cannot be a sportswoman, mother and an intellectual in one.

On her graduation day, Neshamba posted on her social media: “I CAN DO IT ALL, THROUGH CHRIST WHO STRENGTHENS ME! This might inspire someone. If I could do it, you too can do it. . .

“But I would actually push for administrators and school authorities to have structures in place for this particular group of people and the other learners or players to eliminate issues of having them ridiculed by their peers; this will affect them mentally.

“Pregnancy can be very difficult, it takes up a lot of energy in one’s body. The stress of being picked on by peers and trying to cope with school work is not good for the unborn child.”

At Harare City Volleyball, power hitter Nyengeterai Guyo, who is also an officer and player with the Police, played into her last trimester in 2014 before giving birth to Miranda, a baby girl. She reckons for the sport that gave her a job, love and an extra source of income, she simply could not let pregnancy or motherhood take her off court.

“I met my husband in Volleyball, I got a job here and we both live pretty much on Volleyball. So why let pregnancy spoil all this for me?

“I balance all of it very well. . .most people thought I would give birth on court because I played up to the very day that I went into labour,” recalls the ZRP sports  administrator.

Guyo believes enactment of the new law permitting pregnant girls to continue with school after giving birth gives girls another chance to prepare a future for themselves and their children.

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