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By Tadious Manyepo
PRISON officer, Patience Chinhoyi, is certainly not the best thing to happen in Zimbabwean sport.
But, she has probably written her unique piece, in the history of sport, in this country.
It’s a shame, she hasn’t received the plaudits she deserves.
Chinhoyi has won countless individual, and team accolades, while representing the country in basketball, netball and rugby.
The 38-year-old has since quit rugby, a game she was so good at that top. South African teams once jostled for her signature, after she grabbed their attention in the Castle Series in Zambia, over a decade ago.
Her main dish now is basketball, where she turns out for champions, Harare City Hornets.
She also plays netball for multi-champions, Correctional Queens, a team which recruited her into the Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services, about 12 years ago.
While Chinhoyi largely remains a queen, without a palace crown, she feels honoured, after she was last week voted the Basketball Union of Zimbabwe Most Valuable Player of the Decade (between 2011 and 2020).
She, together with other winners in different categories including City Hornets men’s star, Tatenda Maturure, who scooped the MVP’s award in the male section ahead of France-based Vitalis Chikoko, will be honoured at a function, once Covid-19 restrictions ease.
“I have won several individual prizes but this one is the icing on the cake,” Chinhoyi said.
“I am very happy to have received this rare accolade.
“You know, scooping an award of this nature in a game which boasts of stars like Mellisa Majonga, Sharon Chamwarura, Alexandra Maseko, Charity Mucucuti, among others, is not easy.
“I am over the moon and this will be my most treasured accolade in my individual trophy cabinet.”
The MVPs, and Team of the Decade, for both men’s and women’s teams in the country, were voted for by stakeholders of the game.
Chinhoyi and Majonga had to be separated after a re-run.
But, it is Chinhoyi’s unique talent, which has seen her performing at the top in basketball and netball.
She also plays volleyball for the ZPCS team, which has done well.
In 2019, she won the Harare Basketball League, and the national championship title, with City Hornets.
She also scooped the RNAL netball league with Correctional Queens.
“I don’t have any difficulties balancing the two sport codes as they often don’t clash.
“To me, playing two basketball games today and a netball match tomorrow, is routine.
“My mind is well calibrated for the change of rules and my individual roles. “Sometimes, I have a volleyball match in between and I am always happy because I haven’t known anything in my life like sport.
“I love sport and balancing the codes is part of sport in itself and I really enjoy the grueling experience which to me is a plate of sadza.”
Chinhoyi though has lingering questions up her mind.
How did she fail to land a rugby deal, when South African teams were scrambling, to secure her signature?
How and why did she, not once but twice, turn down basketball scholarship offers, from the United States?
“Maybe, it wasn’t meant to be. I wonder what I would have become, had I taken any of those offers.
“I can’t even explain why I didn’t take the offers. It’s something I always reflect on and curse myself.
“Anyway, I trust that fate knew what I was supposed to become.
“I would like to thank my ZPCS bosses, for all the support they continue to give me.”