Young Emmaculate Msipa had her fair share of fame with the Mighty Warriors during the 2016 Rio Olympics. She cherishes the memories of scoring for her team against Australia and the celebration that was captured on video by international news agencies will forever bring a smile to her 24-year-old face.
For Msipa, football has not only brought her happiness on the field but it has changed her life.
Grace Chirumanzu (GC): How has football change your life?
Emmaculate Msipa (EM): I remember in 2011 when we were given R4000 each by his excellence our president (Robert Mugabe), that changed my life. I got to realize that I could actually make a living out of football. I started football training in Grade 3 and you know how women’s football is generally looked down upon, so I had the mentality that I am just playing for fun. It was only after the Cosafa tournament in 2011 when we won and got honored by the president that I realized football can be my life. After that we qualified for the All Africa Games, travelled to Germany for a training camp in 2012 and later to Egypt; and again the Olympics came, something that was really big for us. So, that made me look at football in a different way. It is a life-changer and can actually improve someone’s life.
GC: What can you say was the most memorable thing in Rio for you?
EM: No doubt the game against Australia; the one in which I scored (smiles). It is the celebration that I mostly remember and love. Of all celebrations it became the highlight of the tournament with BBC screening it; I even remember the commentators emulated it during the games. That was really special.
GC: I loved it too, that was some celebration. Was it rehearsed?
EM: (Laughs) Yes we did rehearse it before the Olympics, but it was a combination of two celebrations. The first one that I did with everyone was something Sheila and I used to do in camp before the Olympics. Coach (Shadreck Mlauzi) had divided us in teams and we were playing like a tournament. Sheila and I would celebrate like that each time we scored. So, when I scored at the Olympics everyone just knew that was the moment.
If you noticed during that celebration Eunice came to me twice, first it was that long dab the same as everyone and she came and we did the fist pump, which was something we did way back in Primary School playing for Mufakose Queens. She just knew the moment was just special for that.
GC: Who is your best friend in your team?
GC: You go a long way with Eunice (Chibanda), how did it feel playing together at that big stage?
EM: Eunice is like my sister from another mother. We were at the same Primary School and I was the captain before she took over the armband as I progressed to secondary school. We would meet at matches again at Secondary School and though we were at different schools we were together at Mufakose Queens. We played together again in the national U20 team and she was my captain then and our journey has taken us to Rio and now Yaounde.
GC: What do you enjoy more besides football?
EM: That is difficult because I do nothing else that is not football related. It is either I am playing football or I am watching it. I am a staunch Caps United supporter, so most of the time I will be at the stadium watching football.
GC: How do you psychologically prepare for a match on the day?
EM: All I do is pray, from the moment we leave the hotel to the changing room. All I will be saying is ‘God, you are the one who gave us this talent and took us here, please guide us through it.’
GC: If you were not a footballer, what would you be?
EM: I was going to be an Engineer, I wanted to do something to do with electricity. But in 2008 we went for the Cosafa tournament and did well and the then ZIFA CEO (Henrietta) Rushwaya gave me $100 and then again the R4000 from the president in 2011, I got flattered and today I am a footballer.
‘Sportswomanship demystified’ is a series of profiles and photos by Her Zimbabwe and Sports Journalist and photographer, Grace Chirumanzu, in support and solidarity for the Mighty Warriors ahead of the 2016 African Women Cup of Nations (AWCON). It celebrates Zimbabwe’s Mighty warriors as women of strength, who know no boundaries and limits. They have persisted despite all challenges they have faced, and deserve all the support they can get. Go Mighty Warriors!
All images taken by Grace Chirumanzu