The Sunday Mail
WHENEVER Zimbabwe Gems goal shooter Pauline Jani scores, she performs a comical shimmy, runs down the court with her hands pointing towards the heavens and murmurs a few words to herself.
Given the fact that netball is a high scoring game and Jani is such a prolific scorer, the celebration has become a staple with the Gems and the Zimbabwe Republic Police Mambas.
The Sunday Mail Sport sort to understand the motivation behind the unique celebration.
At the heart of this celebration is Pauline’s late mother, Irene Masara, who happens to be the driving force behind the beast in Jani after passing her netball genes and passion for the sport on to her.
Jani says with every goal she scores, she utters, “This one is for you mum.”
“After receiving my third-term Grade One report, back in 1996, my mother said to me, ‘Pauline, academics are not your thing, but with your height and netball DNA, take this seriously and I know you will make a good player some day,” said the 29-year-old Hippo Valley-born netball star.
“Back then I was too young to understand what she meant, but things got clearer as I grew older.
“I got a scholarship at Pamushana High school and my path to the Gems begun,” said Jani as tears flooded her eyes.
Sadly, Jani’s father passed in 2006 (father) while her mother passed in the following year.
Indeed, netball DNA runs in the family.
Apart from Jani’s mother Irene, her martenal grandmother, affectionately known as Gogo Nongai, was also a netball stalwart.
But during her formative years, Jani’s passion for the sport was put to the test on several occasions.
“When I was still in Grade Seven, I struggled to stay in school due to financial woes. When Pamushana gave me a scholarship, I felt a door had been opened for me,” she said.
“The school would provide everything, including groceries for me but my heart was always with my young brother Mike who was living with our uncle.
“When l was doing my Form Two, I vividly remember receiving my first call up to the national team. lt felt like a dream I didn’t even want to wake up from,” said the GS.
When Jani was doing her ‘O’ level studies, she received the message that her young brother was being mistreated. She ran away from school to look after Mike. She then went back home and tried her hand at vending so that she could fend for the family.
“For some time, I was a vendor in Masvingo as I had to look after my brother and feed us both.
“Fortunately, fate intervened and soon I was back in school and doing my thing on the netball court,” said Jani.
In 2008, she began her professional career after joining Gestmine. Later on she moved to Shangani Mine Netball Club.
However, mine life became too much for her and Jani made the great trek to Railstars, then under Menfree Tanyanyiwa’s mentorship who took her in as his foster child.
When the club closed down, Jani tried her luck at Hwange Netball club, before finally settling home with the Mambas.
The Mambas have given her stability both on and off the court.
She is now a member of the Zimbabwe Republic Police.