The Sunday Mail
IT has often been said that every time a legend calls time on his or her career, a puppy dies, and a lot of them must have gone to meet their maker when Gems skipper Perpetua Siyachitema hung up her bib upon the conclusion of Vitality Netball World Cup in July last year.
The last eight months since her retirement have been absolute bliss for the 37-year-old, who now finds time to enjoy the little things in life, especially after having been a loyal servant of the game for almost two decades, one of which was spent as skipper.
“Being at the World Cup, I was nervous and excited at the same time, but the truth of the matter is that my dream had come true.
“I had my moments in the sun, played my heart out and now the Gems chapter is closed.
“I wanted it to end with the World Cup, and did just that.
“When I got married, I was already a Gem and generally never got that quality time with my family.
“I yearned for the day that I could sit in the terraces with my husband and watch the Gems play, and now that time has come,” she said.
The former Gem wing attack (WA) was also a player-coach at her club, Glow Petroleum Queens, but she recently quit playing to focus on coaching.
Currently, she is the only netball female head coach in the country, and has set her sights on upgrading to Level One coaching.
She is also in the process of establishing an academy that will focus on grassroots development.
“I now have new challenges; one cannot just stop, for netball is my life, and I have to do more.
“I have come a long way, seen a lot and I feel it is my responsibility as a former player to inspire youngsters.
“When things go down, we do not quit; we need to work our way up there, and that is what I want to teach the youngsters. We need to build loyal talent from the lowest level possible,” she said.
Siyachitema, however, regrets having to walk away from the court at a time when she wishes she “could have retired and left netball on a better footing”.
She hopes that the netball community will move in one direction and be united by a common goal.
“For me, this year simply comes with new life.
“After all the challenges we have been facing in netball: the rift between the Rainbow Amateur Netball League and Zimbabwe Netball Association specifically, this year should be different.
“Issues should be resolved, we should unite and paint a new face for our beloved sport,” she said.
Last year, the Sport and Recreation Commission (SRC) intervened in the long-running licensing rift between Zimbabwe Netball Association (ZINA) and the Rainbow Amateur National League, instructing the former to — apart from realigning their constitution — accommodate the affiliate.
ZINA were also ordered to conduct elections before January 31 but they have been defiant and have still not followed the SRC directive.
A worried Siyachitema feels it is time for netballs’ problems to be resolved.