Ngqwele Dube, Sports Correspondent
SHE will be the youngest player that would be doing duty for the nation at the Rio Olympics in Brazil with the Mighty Warriors but she is already dreaming of leading the women’s national side one day.
Former Under-20 national team captain Mavis Chirandu (21) is intent on wearing the armband one day and says being surrounded by older, experienced players on the trip to Rio will certainly see her learning some crucial lessons that will prove beneficial later on in her career.
The left-footed midfielder emphasises that she is enjoying being around veterans and believes this will give her the right footing in her career.
True, the Weerams FC player has her career ahead of her and making the national team at that age will certainly open up a lot of possibilities.
“Breaking into the Mighty Warriors was a dream come true because playing for the national team is what one always aspires for and playing in such a big sporting showcase such as the Olympics is just out of this world,’’ said Chirandu.
“I am not lost to the fact that I am inexperienced at this stage of the game but will be taking the opportunity to learn from my seniors. The reception has been great and I have been treated fairly well as an equal by all my teammates. I admire captain Felistas Muzongondi and I want to follow in her footsteps,” she added.
Like her other colleagues, she harbours ambitions of playing abroad particularly in Europe and feels Rio could provide the fertile ground in which she can secure a move internationally and at 21, she is better placed to get the nod ahead of her teammates.
Chirandu’s journey in life however, is no ordinary story but reads like a fairy tale.
Devante, as Chirandu is known by her teammates, was dumped by her mother by the roadside shortly after birth and was picked up by a Good Samaritan, who took her to the SOS Children Village in Bindura where she was placed into the care of a foster family.
Chirandu has nothing but praise for God who she feels played a role in her survival and giving her a family at SOS.
“I’m so grateful to the man who picked me up and brought me to the orphanage. I found a family at the village and you wouldn’t really tell the difference between me and children raised in a proper family setup,” she said.
Although she has managed to weather the storm of growing up without her parents Chirandu said she sometimes longs to have them around, to see her succeed and cheer her on as she represents the nation at the highest level.
Her interest in soccer started as a young girl playing with peers as they engaged in street soccer and her interest in the sport grew when she enrolled at the SOS Hermain Gmeiner School and she did not hesitate joining the school football team where she established herself as one of the top players earning herself a place in the senior team.
Madam Chair, as Chirandu is nicknamed after former women’s football chairlady, Mavis Gumbo, was spotted by national team coaches while taking part at a tournament organised by their school in conjunction with the US Embassy, where she scored four goals to hand her school the trophy.
She showcased her talent to the nation when she put up a sterling performance in the Young Mighty Warriors’ 4-0 victory over Mozambique in a Fifa Under-20 Women’s World Cup qualifier in February 2012.
Devante has now moved out of the SOS Village and is staying alone in Highfields and is looking forward to establishing herself in the national game.
“Although it’s a struggle making financial gain from local soccer, I hope to make a living from the game as I am currently receiving a lot of assistance from SOS,” she said.