The Sunday Mail
Veronica Gwaze Sports Reporter
FOR Support Unit’s volleyball star, Tinaishe Ndavacheva, the aim is to make a lasting impression each time he takes to the court.
The Olympic hopeful, who is popular for leaving endearing memories each time he steps on court, has signed with Florida’s University of Weber to become Zimbabwe’s first volleyball player to get an international scholarship.
Ndava, as he is affectionately known in volleyball circles, has signed for the upcoming 2020-21 academic year, to study Sport Business Management.
He will be playing men indoor, outdoor and beach volleyball at the institution.
“I am over the moon, I did not expect this. I never thought of myself as a great player. In fact, there are players that I look up to and feel there is a lot to learn from them.
“We are all devastated by Covid-19 and suddenly a scholarship comes, I am just overwhelmed,” said Ndavacheva.
As he awaits to fly abroad, he has upped his training regime to keep fit while doing some online learning.
Ndava, an Outside and Right Side Hitter, told The Sunday Mail Sport that the scholarship comes just after Harare City Volleyball had offered him a lucrative deal, which he turned down.
The lanky player reckoned that Harare City have an abundance of talent that he was not even guaranteed of much game time.
If he had not secured a scholarship, Ndava had committed to staying at Support Unit.
“Harare City is a big club and they have so many great players so I knew that if I sign with them, I was not going to get much game time.
“Not that I am not good enough, but the competition would simply be on another level,” he said.
In reflecting on his volleyball journey, Ndava acknowledged that the sport had helped him break new ground.
He feels, without volleyball, he may have never enrolled at a group A school, boarded a plane or even gained admission at an international and reputable institution like Webber.
Ndava started playing volleyball in Masvingo when he was nine -years-old.
He would help his brother, who played at school, with drills in their backyard.
With time, he developed a passion for the game and started playing volleyball at school (Gokomere) although he never considered going beyond the school courts.
“The coaches and other senior players commended my game. That always felt like big news to me and it then dawned on me that I could take the sport seriously.
“I started training harder, got into the school team and one day during the National Association of Primary Heads games (NAPH) in Kwekwe, luck struck. Aaron Mutede who coached Allan Wilson identified me and offered a secondary school scholarship,” Ndava said.
In 2014, he enrolled at Allan Wilson and that same year he was already making statements on the school volleyball charts.
Ndava remembers how senior players marvelled at his game although he lacked confidence.
“On my first day at training I surprised the seasoned players, coming from Masvingo, they didn’t know me so they were actually questioning my talent.
“In a short time, they fell in love with my game and started teaching me a lot and in no time I was part of the family,” he said.
It was during his Allan Wilson days that he signed under AM Academy.
Under the academy he struck deals with Naba, University of Zimbabwe and Support Unit.
Apart from various accolades under his belt, Ndava captained Churchill Bulldogs, Zimbabwe Under-19 and featured on the senior national teams for both six aside and Beach Volleyball.
“Volleyball is now my life. I will achieve my goals to educate myself and change the living standards of my family with my aim being to become a big name in world volleyball,” said Ndava.
Mutede reflected on the first day he spotted Ndava in 2013.
“When I first saw him, all I could see was real potential, he had the height and a good academic background.
“When he came to Allan Wilson, I learnt that he is a disciplined player who is keen to learn more and works hard during his spare time,” he said.
Mutede said over the years, Ndava has grown to become a big name who has contributed immensely to the country and respective clubs’ achievements.
Carlos Jimenez, Webber International University’s Volleyball head coach, described Ndava as a rare talent whom he looks forward to making an impact on the institution’s indoor and beach
“I have been following him for a while now, watching his videos and I believe he will make an impact through his collegiate career.
“We have a very talented group of athletes on our team this coming year and I believe he will add competition to the team, create an environment where players push themselves to excel in every sense.
“We know how important it is for him to be the best and grow into a professional player at world class level and that will make him an automatic force in our league,” said Jimenez.