Harare- Zambian handball superstar Lydia Kaira and Zimbabwe national team captain Melissa Makuwe have faced off several times.
Both are in their early 20s and over the years they have become firm friends.
Not only that. The two are multi-disciplines athletes. The duo regularly represents the national team in korfball. In addition, 22-year-old Makuwe is quite good at athletics, basketball, cricket, football and rugby and has won more than 50 national and regional medals in the different codes.
Kaira says pursuing multiple sporting disciplines requires immense mental fortitude.
“It takes dedication and a lot of hard work for one to be able to make it in the national team for any sport code. I have always worked hard since my school days. Handball is a game that I grew up playing and I want to play it until I even get a chance to move overseas.
“I was introduced to korfball just recently but it takes dedication and I am glad I have been able to grasp the concepts so much that I am now a regular in the national women’s side,” she tells The Southern Times Sport.
Kaira lives a stone’s throw away from one of Southern Africa’s best facilities for sporting excellence, the Olympic Youth Development Centre (OYDC) in Lusaka.
“I have utilised the facility well. I wake up early in the morning every day and take to the track before I go for the gym sessions in the complex. I just make sure that every minute is used productively.”
The Zambian is not short of company as she goes through her paces, often doubling up with her sister Juliet, who is the Zambia handball national team goalkeeper.
When it comes to the cordial rivalry with Makuwe, Kaira has often come out on top; such as in the semi-finals of the International Handball Federation Zone V1 tournament four years ago in Johannesburg, South Africa, and in the following two years when Zambia beat Zimbabwe twice.
The tables are, however, turned when it comes to korfball; with Makuwe’s Zimbabwe besting Kaira’s Zambia in the race to qualify for the 2019 World Cup.
The multi-talented Makuwe now wants to concentrate on three disciplines: basketball, handball and korfball.
Makuwe says, “I have represented Zimbabwe in athletics, cricket, basketball, handball, korfball and rugby. But I have now decided to pursue handball more. I have been able to do all that because of my dedication to sport. It needs discipline and focus.”
Makuwe became the first Zimbabwean to be signed by an overseas handball club when she joined Kosovo side Shkponja last year.
The South Africa-based athlete is now angling for a lucrative move to English club Trafford.