Mighty Warriors captain achieves unique feat

SHE has not been at her best on the field but Mighty Warriors captain Felistas “Figo” Muzongondi has achieved a feat that no other local football captain has managed in the history of local sport.

Not even the Warriors’ great captains like Peter Ndlovu, Benjani Mwaruwari, Francis Shonhayi and Ephraim Chawanda can match Muzongondi’s achievements.

The 30-year-old Mwenezana Estate midfielder led the Mighty Warriors to qualify for the Rio Olympic Games to be held in August this year.

The Mighty Warriors are also going to compete in the 2016 Women’s Africa Cup of Nations finals to be held in Cameroon in November-December. 

Only the women’s hockey team that won gold at the Moscow Olympics Game in Russia in 1980’s feat remains the greatest team victory for a local team at a global showpiece.

Swimmer Kirsty Coventry bagged seven individual medals at the Athens and Beijing Games. The Mighty Warriors can also write their own piece of history by doing well in Rio de Janeiro where they have been placed in a tough Group F which comprises Germany, Australia and Canada.

Muzongondi feels proud to be the leader of such a great side which has propelled local women football to greater heights.

“It’s a great achievement to qualify for both tournaments considering that it’s only the first time that we are going to the Olympics and also it’s really been long since we last played at Afcon (2004),” she said.

“This proves that the girl child has got a lot to offer to the nation if we commit ourselves to what we know best.”

The Mighty warriors have received very limited support from Zifa and the corporate sector but the ladies have buckled up to defy odds.

The players are owed large amounts of money in winning bonuses and allowances. While in camp the ladies have had to eat sadza and kapenta while their male counterparts are treated lavishly.  

“It’s by the Grace of the Almighty. All along, we knew there was very little support coming towards women’s football and all we did was play for the love of our country and recognition,” Muzongondi said.

“Our focus, despite all the financial hardships, was to win with a broader view being that of putting the nation on the world map and now that we have achieved our goal, we hope that the powers that be will now give us the much-needed recognition which to us was the driving force behind our success.”

Muzongondi is currently working for Tongaat Hulett in Mwenezena Estate, a fall-back position that has seen her smile when days looked dull in their time of need in camp with the squad.

The midfielder began her football career as a secondary student at Ndarama High School in Masvingo in early 2000. In 2003, she left for Gweru to play for Chipembere Queens and after a four-year stint with the Midlands side she crossed the boarder to South Africa in search of greener pastures.

While in South Africa Muzongondi, together with a couple of friends and Mighty Warriors’ teammates Marjory Nyaumwe and Ruvimbo Mutyavaviri among others, turned out for Detroit.

The sojourn was however, short-lived as she returned home a year later where she signed for Cyclone Queens until 2014 before moving back to her current base in Mwenezi.

“It’s been a difficult period with regards to my form but it happens in football, sometimes you go off form only to rediscover it later,” she added.

“Though it’s our first time to be paying at the Olympics we are not going there to make up the numbers.

“We know the kind of quality opposition that awaits us in Rio but nothing is impossible and we won’t be putting ourselves under immense pressure.

“We are aware that a lot of scouts will be monitoring players out there and if we can have one or two players catching the eye of the scouts it will be an endorsement of how good our game has grown in recent times.”—Austin Karonga

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