Ellina Mhlanga in LIVERPOOL, England
SHE was on the verge of retiring and a call-up to the Zimbabwe team for the Vitality Netball World Cup wasn’t something she was eager to accept.
It took her husband to persuade her to agree to return to the national team, after almost a decade since her last appearance for the Gems, before she relocated to Australia.
That’s the story of Zimbabwe’s goal-shooter, Joice Takaidza, who has been instrumental in the senior side’s impressive performance on their World Cup debut in Liverpool.
She was considering retirement due to a persistent knee problem and to feature for the national team at this stage wasn’t something she was looking forward to.
Takaidza gives credit to her husband Admire Takaidza, for pushing her for this assignment.
“I was like, no I am not going there. I am not fit enough to be there and all I was thinking was what if all those players that I know are not in there, where do I start from to know someone from scratch?
“I told my husband I am not going and he was the one who pushed me. He was the one talking with Mai (Leticia) Chipandu and Mai (Barbara) Rice.
“I wasn’t even checking my emails. He was the one who was going to my emails and checking and would say Mai Rice has said this, Mai Chipandu has said this and I was like you talk to them I am not going.
“But, from there when we started talking to them, that’s when he started to be my personal trainer. He is also into netball,” said Takaidza.
Takaidza led from the front scoring an extraordinary 59 goals for Zimbabwe on their way to an historic win in their first World Cup encounter against Sri Lanka on the first day of the tournament.
The Zimbabwean goal shooter proved why she got that call to the national team after close to a decade away.
The mother of three said the excitement that comes with competing at this stage has made her change her mind and her 11-year-old daughter Tatenda is following in her footsteps.
“I think I have to change my mind because I didn’t know it was going to be this exciting to be a celebrity, just from nowhere, and at this age it’s so exciting.
“I was going to retire because of my knee. I have a problem with my knee but I have gone for all MRIs but there is nothing that needs to be done.
‘’But it’s getting swollen every time, sometimes when it’s swollen it’s so painful. It feels like I have one longer leg and one smaller leg, so I was just trying to retire and rest.
“At the same time I don’t want to retire completely because my daughter just started playing.’
‘’I don’t want to disappoint my husband because all the things he has done for me, I really appreciate. I think I am the lucky one because it’s all because of him, for me to be here now.” said Takaidza.
Being part of the first seven in the first game against Sri Lanka, her prayer was to make that first shot to calm everyone’s nerves.
“I wasn’t nervous. I was very calm and I think the commentator was saying I have a serious face when I shoot, that’s the business face.
‘’I was so happy that I am doing this for the first time and the crowd is there for us.
“It was just something else, so it was so good and so exciting. That first shot will calm all the nerves. ‘’I was like please God help me to shoot this first goal, so that everyone will be calm and it was like that and we did it. “I think we have done so much so far… we have done so much already we have left the position we were (occupying before the World Cup),” she said. Takaidza began featuring for the national team when she was still at Pamushana High School in the late 1990s.