contribution in their qualification for the All-Africa Games set for Maputo, Mozambique in September, writes Ellina Mhlanga.
Her name is Rudo Neshamba. It is not only the skills in the field of play that have seen her becoming popular but also her looks, which have made her the Mighty Warriors beauty queen. The Mighty Warriors striker recently scored two crucial goals that helped the team to qualify for the 10th edition of the All-Africa Games.
The 19-year-old forward, who recently graduated from the Under-20 side, banged her first goal for the senior women’s soccer team in the first leg of the final All Africa Games qualifier against Angola, away in Dundo early this month.
The match ended in a 1-1 draw to keep the Mighty Warriors’ dream alive. She scored again in the return leg at Rufaro last Sunday to inspire Zimbabwe to a 2-0 victory, and securing a place in the regional games. Neshamba said she began playing football in 2002 when she was 10-years-old after being inspired by her sister who went to take part in a football tournament in Norway.
“I started playing soccer when I was 10-years-old while I was still doing my Primary education at Mgoqo School in Bulawayo in 2002. I joined Inline club in 2004 and I am still attached to the club up to now. I played for my school at secondary level but I concentrated more on the club.
“My sister used to play soccer for New Orleans club and she went to Norway in 2002 that’s when I joined soccer.
“She was my inspiration,” said Neshamba.
The 19-year-old had to wait for four years to make a breakthrough into the national team. She was part of the Under-20 team that took part in the Zone Six Championships held in Swaziland last year in December.
However, the last two games in the senior team have boosted her popularity on the local scene.
“I joined the national team in 2008 and it has been a great experience playing with well known players like Nomsa Moyo,” said Neshamba.
The Mighty Warriors chief striker said her family played a vital role in her success, as they have always been there to support her.
“My family has always been very supportive. I haven’t faced any challenge except at national level when I am playing.
“But I just pray to God for guidance and protection. And just train and focus on the game,” said the 19-year-old.
Neshamba said her best achievement so far as a football player was scoring the two goals for the senior national team.
“I am so proud of myself and happy. The last two games against Angola are the memorable games in my career so far. In the first leg in Angola I scored the goal and that was my first in the senior national team and I felt so great. I also scored in the return leg and the qualification for the All-Africa Games was good considering that we last played at the Games in 2003.
“I think we are going to bring positive results from Maputo,” said Neshamba. The rising star said being able to remained composed has helped her to do well when she is on the field of play.
“Composure is always important when you are playing. Just being composed and playing to my best has helped me a lot when I am in the field of play,” said Neshamba. The former Sikhulile High School pupil said although there is a negative perception associated with women in sport, this has not deterred her from fulfiling her dreams. She hopes to become a coach in the future after she hangs her boots.
“People talk but we do not mind them because we know what we want to achieve in life. I want to continue playing football and I also want to become a national team coach in the future.
“For those who also want to play they should keep on training and be willing to learn.
“The sky is the limit,” said Neshamba.
Neshamba is the fourth child in a family of five girls and was born on February 10 1992.
She attended Mgoqo Primary School in Bulawayo and completed her ‘O’ level last year at Sikhulile High.
She is Manchester United fan and her favourite player is Lionel Messi of Barcelona.