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Simba’s roaring lioness: Roselyn Mandala

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SIMBA women’s hockey side made history last season when it ended Genetrix Ladies’ dominance on the local scene after winning the FMB Ladies Hockey League. It was a feat that left Genetrix humbled and humiliated following five years of dominance. Even local pundits were stunned by Simba’s resurgent form.

One of the key players that featured highly for Simba during the historic campaign was Roselyn Mandala. Born at Bwaila Hospital in Lilongwe on July 10, 1994, Mandala was instrumental in the team’s campaign with her breathtaking performances that inspired her side to register important wins to lift the championship. Early days Mandala was inspired to take up the hockey stick while in secondary school after watching some games.

“I started playing hockey when I was in Form Two at Chipasula Secondary School in Lilongwe. I used to see my school mates playing and I eventually became interested in the sport and started training with them. But I was not serious about it as I am now,” she says. Despite some distractions which saw some of her colleagues picking up basketball and netball, Mandala settled for hockey because she felt it was a unique sport.

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“I simply like and enjoy hockey a lot more compared to basketball and netball. I think the game [hockey] is unique. A lot of people in our country choose to play football, netball or basketball because these are popular. So I chose hockey because it is an unfamiliar and unpopular game. It is different from the other sporting activities,” she said.

Ups and downs However, Mandala said the journey to establish her mark as one of the most promising players of this generation in hockey circles has been difficult. “It has been a tough journey because after completing secondary school, I stopped playing. I stayed for a year without playing. So when I picked it up again, it was like starting to learn something new,” she says.

Since she left secondary school, Mandala has been at Simba as she believes that a rolling stone gathers no moss. “I have not changed clubs Simba’s roaring lioness because as a team, we are committed to the sport and we are like a family. We do things together and we help each other when we set out to achieve our goals,” she says.

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Mandala admits that winning the 11-aside FMB League was her most memorable experience as Simba were underrated before the start of the season. “I was so happy because it was my first time after joining Simba when the team won a trophy. It was an amazing experience,” she says.

However, her saddest experience was when Simba lost sponsorship from College of Medicine Sports Complex moments after winning the title. “When we received the news that Sports Complex had terminated our sponsorship contract, we were devastated. This was a tough moment in the sport because it was the time when we were planning a trip to Zimbabwe,” she said.

Currently, Mandala rates her teammate and defender, Rosena Kazembe, highly describing her as the spine of the team. “She is an excellent defender and I admire her style of play,” she says.

Reaping fruits of preparing and planning Mandala feels Simba were able to snatch the title from Genetrix because of good preparations and proper game plan which was successfully executed. “Our secret was that we trained hard, our fitness was good and we played and worked together as a team. This played a major role in our success,” she says.

Despite faring poorly at a recent tournament in Zimbabwe, Mandala believes Simba gained valuable experience that will lift the team to new heights. “It was a crucial tournament because it gave us exposure. We learnt how other teams play. We gained a lot from our counterparts in Zimbabwe. We hope to display what we learnt there in the league this year,” she said.

However, Mandala bemoans the support hockey gets from the government saying it was time other sport codes enjoyed the favour and support which football and netball get.

“The government needs to take interest in other sports like hockey. Because there are people who like the game and want to play but they lack equipment and other requirements for them to continue playing. The government only supports football and netball. But the same support should also be extended beyond these two dominant sports. So I would like the government to take interest in hockey and show some support,” she said.

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