AFTER a stylish debut at last year’s Zone IV games in Malawi, Harare City volleyball libero, Hazel Sanyika, looked forward to another dance with the stars.
At the contest, the debutant whose identity many questioned, left them eating from the palm of her hands as she propelled the Municipality team to dazzling heights.
The former Girls’ High School student and player, like many, is heart-broken by the novel coronavirus infectious disease-19 (Covid-19) that has claimed thousands of lives globally and also left the sport in a stasis.
“I was really looking forward to another opportunity at this year’s Zone IV games that were scheduled for Mozambique.
“Unfortunately, with this outbreak we may be headed for a null year,” she says.
Sanyika hopes to be Zimbabwe’s first volleyball player to sign with an international club. The pint-sized’s journey to Harare City, where she is the youngest player, is as interesting as her character.
Quite and calm, but on court she as tenacious as a Scottish terrier.
The Harare-born star’s volleyball journey started during her days at Highfield’s Zororo Primary School. Ordinarily, when a player runs out of legs or resigns, they simply cannot take their heart away from the game. They usually take to social games — the boozers.
For Sanyika, it was different; during her high school days, she would play Volleyball boozer and social games.
“I was the youngest player and it is at one of the games that a coach from one of the local clubs spotted me,” she explains.
“Honestly, back then I never thought I would ever turn professional with the game. It was actually a far-fetched idea for me. For me it was just for fun and nothing beyond, so when that coach gave me an offer, it was a huge surprise. Deep inside, I took it but doubted myself.”
In 2016, she joined Morris Depot Volleyball Club before moving to Manyame Falcons. Early last year, she found home at the Municipality side, making her debut at the Zone IV after the club finished off the national league second placed, after University of Zimbabwe Wolves. The Zone IV experience changed her perspective and vision about Volleyball and the sport in general.
“My vision about sport was that it is only kids from the other side of town (western suburbs) who could take it professionally.
“So when I got the call up for Malawi, it was a surprise and I doubted my abilities considering where I came from and the fact that I was an amateur.
“To my surprise, it somehow happened naturally for me. It was an amazing experience and my coaches were happy,” remembers Sanyika.
The libero reckons the experience was also a learning platform as it helped boost her confidence and techniques.
For her the regional contest was full of talent and competition and she learnt a lot.
“At first I was both scared and excited to be nominated among the first six at any game. At such a tourney, you begin to scrutinize yourself,” she chuckles.
“What scared me most was that Harare City is a big team, it is a brand on its own and you dare not do anything that taints that image.
“I remember the coach telling me to calm down. He told me to play my normal game and there it just flowed like that. I have learnt so much.”
Despite the global pandemic-induced lockdown that has forced most sport codes into a hiatus, Sanyika has taken to home training.
She feels she still has a long way to go with the sport, hence she continues to work extra hard awaiting her next call up for international contest.
Harare City Volleyball Assistant coach, Tawanda Pamire, describes Sanyika as a star in the making.
“In Malawi, as a debutant, she did much more than we expected and, as coaches we felt we were right in our choice.
“Despite being new, she would receive perfectly well and initiate without a flaw-that’s what a star does.
“Hopefully this Covid-19 clears soon, because we are looking forward to her in yet another showcase. Remember, she is still very young in terms of age,” he explains.