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From Lupane to Liverpool

by Staff reporter
28 Jul 2019 at 09:05hrs | Views
AT the age of three, she was abandoned by her own mother.

The bottled up anger of not understanding why a parent, particularly a mother, would leave her child, made staying with her stepmother hell on earth.

She had to device an escape plan each time she needed to attend a netball training session at Daisy Primary and Secondary Schools in Gwanda, where she received both her sporting and academic instructions.

It took the intervention of school authorities for her to sit for Grade Seven and O-Level final exams as she did not have any form of identification, including a birth certificate.

Somehow, a way always emerged for her, even when all the odds were stacked against her.

Gems Winger Beauty Sithole never had it easy - which is probably why she gave highly fancied international netball stars a run for their money - with performances that charmed not just fans from across the world, but even her opponents on the court.

As Beauty basked in the glory of her recent successes where the Zimbabwe Gems, the senior national netball team came eighth at their debut World Cup appearance in Liverpool, England last week - memories of having to grow up without a mother flooded her head.

While others were kissed and hugged by their mothers as they boarded the 2019 netball World Cup bound aircraft earlier this month - she only had her dad, Cosmas Sithole.

As he waved his daughter goodbye, his tears were an emotional mixture of joy and the pain from wounds that had been opened.

The 49-year-old Sithole remembers how he was dumped by his ex-wife Sithokozile Dube back in 2000, leaving him to take care for their two children.

At the time, Beauty was three while her brother Mxolisi was a year old.

Dube vanished without a trace, leaving deep wounds on her "loved ones", wounds that are yet to heal.

Sithole's children long for a mother's love, something they have never experienced in their life and may never have.

He wishes his ex-wife could have been at Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport to wave their daughter goodbye when she departed for Liverpool.

In an exclusive interview with The Sunday Mail Society, Beauty's father explained how his daughter turned the negative aspects of her life into a potent "fuel" that drives her to always strive for greatness and achieve what most would deem unachievable.

Said Sithole: "Everything about the neglect was absorbed, catalogued and remains engraved in my children's hearts. I do not know how to erase all those painful memories. The mother left when she was needed the most and I have no idea where she is, she should have been here to share with us these precious moments."

Leaving her children without any identity documents, Dube did not realise Beauty had something beautiful inside her. Armed with nothing but raw netball talent and passion, the tiny rural girl strove to live her dreams - dreams she wishes she could have shared with her mother.

Known by her moniker "Dhaiza", the Gems player said she neither has any connections with her mother's relatives nor could she recognise her even if they were to meet, which makes her search more difficult.

Beauty's childhood was punctuated by drama from her father's second marriage, including her stepmom's threats to poison her and her little brother.

"Things were just not okay, at one point our stepmother threatened to poison us and we had to be temporarily moved to stay with our grandmother who also lived in Gwanda," she recollected.

Beauty sought to heal her wounds through playing netball.

In 2007 she signed with her first club, Blanket Mine, under the juniors and by Grade Seven she had graduated into the senior team.

With an absent mother and an abusive stepmother, Beauty relocated to Bulawayo to stay with a distant relative in 2011.

Still determined on court, she joined Golden Girls Netball Club, although they were not very active.

Favoured by fortunes, Beauty was identified by Lupane State University coach Prosper Mubayiwa in 2014 at a local tournament.

Mubayiwa immediately signed her.

Playing as a Lupane State University netball club's Goal Attacker gave her something to look forward to everyday.

By 2015, she was already one of the key players. Since then, she dreamt of donning the national team colours one day, although she lost hope with time.

That was until April this year.

Beauty was the first one to receive a national team call up.

She had not seen it coming, considering her background and location.

She fondly remembers how she cried when coach Mubayiwa gave her the news of the national team call up. The tears, she said, were of mixed emotions.

While a part of her was celebrating the call up, the other part was pondering over her identity documents' situation.

Her fear was that she would be dropped.

However, the Netball Association facilitated for Beauty to get a birth certificate, national identity document and a passport to enable her to execute national duty.

Together with her younger sibling, they acquired all the documents in less than a fortnight.

Furthermore, Beauty had 21 days of a lifetime experience in Liverpool, mingling with world netball stars, especially New Zealand Goal Attacker Maria Folau, someone she says she always admired on television.

"I was not expecting the call up considering where I come from and that I had no identity documents. A Gems call up was far-fetched for me, I was kissed by the netball gods, it was my time to shine," she said with a chuckle.

The winger had never played on a wooden court and making her debut at a friendly match in South Africa sent shivers of excitement down her spine.

At 22, Beauty finally found a life and a home first on a Lupane concrete court and then in the Gems camp in Liverpool.

The only dent in this remarkable story is Sithokozile Dube, her mother.

"In my mind, l do not have a clear picture of what my mother looks like. But l wish she could have waved me goodbye when I left for the World Cup. I even wish that one day I could have a contact saved as 'Mom' in my phone. I could have brought her a pair of tennis shoes or a dress from my Liverpool earnings."

Source - sundaymail