The Sunday News
Innocent Kurira, [email protected]
FEMALE football coach Irene Mwanza is enjoying her stint as acting head coach at Zifa Southern Region Division One men’s side Mosi Rovers based in Victoria Falls.
Mwanza has been in charge of eight games. She has recorded two wins, four draws and two losses. Mwanza says her love for football started at a young age.
“I have always loved football. I grew up with my brothers who were so much into football, Richard Mwanza played as a goalkeeper when I was young and I enjoyed spending time with his friends when they came home to visit, the likes of
Thabani Masawi. When I became a teacher in 2006 I introduced girls’ soccer at Neshaya Secondary School and that is where my coaching journey started. I worked with girls there and in 2007 the girls lost in the zonal final,” said Mwanza.
Mwanza, who is also a qualified teacher, never looked back on her coaching career.
“In 2010, when I went to Mosi oa Tunya High School, I took over the girls’ soccer team. I coached them and won provincial championships twice with the Under-15 and Under-20 teams. In 2008 I worked with Evelyn Rimai coaching the Cosasa Under-17 Zimbabwe squad and we got a bronze medal.”
Fast forward to 2018, she joined Mosi Rovers.
“In 2018 I joined Mosi Rovers which had just been promoted into Division One as an assistant coach to Phumulo Kanu Mathe. I learnt a lot from him, he was very accomm-odating. I later left the club but retraced my footsteps into working with Mehluli Moyo as my head coach. In 2023 I worked under Clemence Bonda as first assistant with Innocent Ndlovu being the second assistant. I found myself heading the team when the head coach left and I took over the reigns as the acting head coach and I’m working with Innocent Ndlovu,” said Mwanza.
She says she maintains a firm approach in dealing with male players.
“It has not been easy. However, I have managed to handle it by not becoming a pushover. As long as people realise that you can stand your ground, you gain their respect. Preparing and being able to withstand pressure makes it easy to venture into men’s territory. It has been a challenge but I have managed to withstand the pressure. There are times, especially when I started, when I felt that the players were not listening to me because I’m female. However, I managed to win them over and this resulted in a good working rapport with them,” said Mwanza.