The Sunday Mail
TATENDA MUKURUVA took a defining step in his journey towards becoming a “great goalkeeper” when he put up a solid performance in Dynamos’ 1-0 triumph away to Buffaloes last Sunday.
The 18–year-old was once again asked to guard the DeMbare goal as regular first choice Artwell Mukandi continues to struggle with a hip injury.
Washington Pakamisa scored the goal that won the match, but it wasn’t the striker’s name that the Dynamos faithful were singing after that tough encounter.
It was all about Tatenda Mukuruva.
At Prince Edward School, where he is an Upper 6 student, Mukuruva returned to a hero’s welcome from both students and teachers alike.
Mukuruva admits the spotlight that comes with doing business for Dynamos is proving “too much.”
“I try to be a normal student at school, but the respect I am getting is just too much . . . everyone just wants to chat with me.
“I always tell my friends I am still their old Tatenda who is in the same class with them, but it seems they now view me as a super hero,” said Mukuruva when The Sunday Mail caught up with him at the PE sports fields on Thursday.
Although he appreciates that Mukandi is the Dynamos number one, the youngster does not mince his words.
“The senior members of the team have been very helpful in calming my nerves and my target now is to get a few more games in the starting line-up.
“The seniors like King Mura (Murape Murape), Roddy (Mutuma) and Themba Ndlovu always tell me that once we are on the field of play we are all equal regardless of one’s age.
“You will hear them say ‘mupfanha usatye kutaura, taura pagedhi ipapo’ . . . and for sure that has helped me settle down,” said Mukuruva.
Former Dynamos assistant coach Tonderayi Ndiraya, who is now coaching Prince Edward School’s first team and was instrumental in Mukuruva’s move to DeMbare, cannot hide his admiration of the youngster.
“It has not come as a surprise to us here at the school because we knew he had the potential.
“We nicknamed him “Ike” (the first name of Real Madrid and Spain ‘keeper Casillas) because he wrestled the school’s first team jersey when he was only in Form Three.
“He has developed faster, he now has some attributes that are rare among most ‘keepers and I was always confident he would compete at the same level as Arty (Mukandi) or George (Chigova).
“The young man has a strong mentality; it is very difficult to break into a big team like DeMbare when one is still at school, but he has managed to do it.
“At school, we have actually made him our goalkeepers’ trainer. When he is free at DeMbare, he comes here and works with all our ‘keepers from junior up to senior level . . . honestly, making him play here is like taking him several huge steps backwards,” said Ndiraya.
The question is how does Mukuruva handle the heavy schedule?
“Tatenda is a highly disciplined boy who is hoisting the Prince Edward flag high.
“He has been exemplary to the other 1 300 boys here, a perfect reference of how to balance school studies with sports and that is why we have made him a prefect,” said the school head Agrippa Sora, as he perused through Mukuruva’s file.
Sora disclosed that he ordered his teachers to draw up a special learning program for Mukuruva who is studying Management of Business, Economics and Mathematics.
“We noticed that sometimes he misses out on lessons as he attends Dynamos training sessions or when his club plays away and has to come back on a Monday afternoon.
“So we have liaised with his teachers and they have come up with a plan that allows him to catch-up, that way he is not disadvantaged,” said the school head.
Mukuruva is a hero at his school, the mere mention of his name attracts a lot of attention and it was no surprise he was the subject of discussion in the school’s administration block for most of last week.
Mukuruva’s confidence levels belie his age and on Thursday he declared that DeMbare were going to lift their fourth straight title.
“No doubt, DeMbare will win the league,” he said.
“That will be good for me also because as a person who is aiming to get a scholarship in the United States of America next year, I would want to leave with another championship medal.”