A toast to the little guy

17 Dec, 2017 - 00:12 0 Views
A toast to the little guy Margret Bangajena

The Sunday Mail

Tinashe Kusema Acting Sports Editor
At a time when almost every sphere of life is dominated by the world’s most beautiful game, it should come as no surprise when the achievements of the lesser known sports sneak in through cracks unnoticed.

Wednesday night, the Sports and Recreation Commission held its Annual National Sports Awards at a lavish ceremony held at the Harare International Conference Centre.

The biggest winners of the night were Samson Muripo and tennis ace Mehluli Don Sibanda, who were awarded the Sportsperson and Junior Sportsperson of the Year respectively.

But Thursday morning, the talk of the town was not centered on these two individuals. It was business as usual.

On the international scene, debate raged on as to who the better footballer is between Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, especially after the latter equalled the former record five Ballon d’Or awards a fortnight ago.

Locally, Ocean Mushure continued to cry foul over missing out on the Soccer Star of the Year prize, which went to FC Platinum’s Rodwell Chinyengetere.

The Dynamos midfielder finished second runner-up. That football is the most followed and popular sport is a fact and that the game dominates talk, both locally and internationally, is another undeniable fact.

It is what it is.
But Margret Bangajena (wheelchair racing) and Sensei Samson Muripo are the two living sports heroes in the country who deserve a lot better than a token trophy and a few measly bucks.

Margret Bangajena is a woman who epitomises the word heroine. Diagnosed with Osteogenic sarcoma – a cancer that affects the bones — at the age of 15, her leg was amputated. She almost gave up on life.

Margret Bangajena

Margret Bangajena

Fortunately, she survived the life-threatening disease and later went on to carve herself a very successful career in wheelchair racing and basketball. She is 39 now and last week Bangajena received her ninth straight Sportswoman of the Year with a Disability Award.

Yes, Margret Bangajena has won nine straight Sportswoman of the Year with a Disability Awards, something that went unnoticed during the night’s proceedings last Wednesday. No mention or acknowledgement from either the board or the night’s masters of ceremony.

But while the powers that be might have failed to acknowledge the record, it doesn’t take anything away from the fact that Bangajena is indeed a true poster woman for the disabled. A label she wears like a badge of honour. “A disability is a condition,  not an identity; that is my sporting and life mantra.

“We must learn to separate the two,” said Bangajena.

“That is my permanent WhatsApp status as a reminder to myself and those that view it. When I was diagnosed with the cancer and had my leg amputated, I thought my life was over but with God when one door closes, he opens another.

“I was soon introduced to sport when I attended Ruwa Rehabilitation Centre of Schooling where I discovered what one can achieve with a positive mind frame and a healthy outlet,” she said. Bangajena is now mother to an 11-year-old boy Tawanda and a seed analyst assistant at the Ministry of Agriculture and Mechanisation.

She successfully balances motherhood, a demanding job and a very successful sports career.

On the other hand, Muripo was only introduced to sport at the age of 15, having spent the first phase of his life in the Chimanimani plantations, near Rusitu Valley. That sounds like a lifetime ago as Muripo has been flying Zimbabwe’s flag very high for well over a decade.

He is a two-time world champion, with the latest coming when he won gold at the 3rd International So-Kyokushin Karate Tournament in Ahvaz, Iran, in February.

His other championship win came back in 2009. The win in Iran also saw him upgraded to Shihan, with the 39-year-old dedicating the rest of his career to grooming, training and mentoring the next generation of Zimbabwean fighters.

He has a wealth of experience given his travels during which he faced all sorts of discrimination and racism and sees it as his duty to impart that knowledge and skils to the younger upcoming fighters. Like Bangajena, Muripo has largely had to accomplish most of this alone with little assistance from the SRC or Government.

While almost every other company or individual clamours to come in and aid football, whether it be Dynamos, Caps United or even the Warriors, these two have been struggling financially.

“It has been a tough journey but one that has changed my life,” said Muripo.
“God has strengthened my mind, my physical being and the one inside me – my spirit.

“I exhausted the little I had and God networked me with people that saw my fighting will, among them the likes of Stephen Charandura – current Zimbabwe Karate Union secretary-general, Shihan Bastiaan Lindert van Stenis, who has been like the grandfather of Kyokushin Karate in Zimbabwe since 2003, standing with us through thick and thin.

“Mr Givemore Sambadzi of Alcatraz, who sponsored my maiden trips to Japan in 2006-2007, supported me until I met Hanshi Daigo Oishi, seeking knowledge, attended his training camp and later on having a one on one Kyokushin karate developmental training programme with him.

“Resources are a big struggle but luckily there have been people who have come in to help,” he said.

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