Msipa: An unlikely history maker

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Harare - Zimbabwe national women's soccer team striker Emmaculate Msipa is not the type of person who is typically thought of as a history maker.

Growing up in one of Harare's poorest townships, Budiriro, Msipa knew that to cross to the other side of the tracks she would have to walk the extra mile, work the extra shift, and try extra hard.

And to do so in a sport that was traditionally not associated with African women meant her work was cut out for her.

Her roots are in playing soccer with a plastic ball alongside her brothers. Now she is a star who plays in Europe.

Msipa last week became the first female footballer from Zimbabwe to sign a professional contract with a European club when she penned a one-year deal with Spanish Segunda Division Feminina side CF Joventut Aimassora. 

Of course her Black Rhinos Queens teammate, Rutendo Makore has played in Spain before, turning out for Spprting Huelva but, it was on a six-month attachment. 

CF Joventut has been following the 27-year-old Zimbabwean since the day she scored for the national team, the Mighty Warriors, in the 1-6 drubbing by Australia at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

The road has not been easy, but she has excelled ever since being snapped up by local side Mufakose Queens. 

She quickly distinguished herself and soon, Black Rhinos Queens - the team that has won all 10 domestic league titles since inauguration of the competition just over a decade ago – was knocking on her door.

"Being asked out by Black Rhinos Queens was a dream. I knew great things were awaiting me. But I never thought one day I would become a professional footballer, let alone make history. This move to Spain is like a dream, incredible,” she said this week.

"You know what aspiring female footballers in the country go through is hell. It was like hell when I was still growing up.  Had it not been for my brothers who kept on urging me to play on, I would have quit the game before I even started. 

"As a girl, you have to work twice as hard and develop yourself mentally otherwise you won't be able to carry yourself over the line. I was lucky to have brothers who accepted to train with me. I played with them every time and that in a way developed my stamina which is one of my greatest strength up to now."

Msipa's rise has inspired many in her neighborhood, where several female teams have been formed. Thanks to her rise, stereotypes are fast falling away and parents are now encouraging their daughters to follow in her footsteps.

Msipa scored 24 league goals in the 2019 season and was voted the player of the year by the Footballers Union of Zimbabwe.

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