The Sunday Mail
AFTER 60 years in the game, Zimbabwe senior netball national team manager Ledwin Dondo is ready to call it a day.
The former Gems head coach, who has won several accolades both as a player and coach, reckons there will be no better time for her to walk away than soon after the World Cup scheduled for 12 to 21 July in Liverpool, England.
“I have walked a long journey but my dream has always been to go for a World Cup and now that dream is coming true.
“After the World Cup, I resign. I will have played my part. It will be time for new blood to take over. However, I will be open to give advice,” said the 72-year old Dondo.
The journey that started in Masvingo in 1959 will end in Liverpool.
“I started netball when I was in standard four at Gokomere. Despite my age, that same year I was picked for the school’s senior team as a centre,” recalled Dondo.
After school she worked as social welfare officer but continued with her netball career as a Kambuzuma Queens player.
“We had no league those days, it was only inter-townships, social and sponsored cups. Our major sponsors were Lyons and UBM. My team (Kambuzuma Queens) won a lot of titles,” said Dondo, who switched from centre to goal defence in 1973.
She would later coach Chitungwiza Queens before helping form St Marys Netball Club in 1985.
The club is arguably the best ever netball team assembled as it has had an astonishing 13-year long unbeaten run between 1985 and 1998.
“Despite earning very little, you could tell that the girls played with passion, they had discipline and a high level maturity.
“I had stars like Chipo Tsunga, Farris and Gladys Murisa, mother to football legend Stewart Murisa,” she said.
In 1993, Dondo, Eva Chirwa and other “netball grannies” formed the netball Super League with six teams comprising of the Zimbabwe Republic Police, St Marys, Highlanders, Hwange, Mhangura and Black Rhinos.
A year later, she was in the mix as the first ever national team was put together ahead of the 5th All Africa Games.
In 1996, Dondo was elected Zimbabwe Netball Association president and served for three terms.
Between 2000 to 2017, she was the Gems coach and helped transform the team into a continental power house.
Last year she was appointed as team manager, a role she executes with the enthusiasm of a teenager.
Dondo believes one of her key roles is to help the players appreciate what it means to be a national team player.
“These days our players lack maturity and responsibility, they do not understand what it means to play for the national team. It’s something they need to be reminded of all the time. Sometimes you can even tell from the way they play that they are not doing it from the heart. However, as we go to the World Cup, we need passion, team spirit and high levels of discipline. We need all this in order to leave a mark at the competition and not just be a team that makes up numbers,” she said.