Mehluli Sibanda, Senior Sports Reporter
ZIMBABWE budding squash talent Ryan Gwidzima, who was meant to further his career at Wycliffe College in the United Kingdom, has seen his progress being halted by the coronavirus pandemic, as he has been in Zimbabwe since March.
Gwidzima flew home at the end of March prior to planes being grounded and has been with his family since then.
The 14-year-old was in the process of completing year nine in UK when he was forced to return home.
He continued his schooling via e-learning at Wycliffe College and completed his first year of high school.
The lad had big plans for this year, as he was scheduled to take part in the Dutch Open as well as the US Open.
Although he resides at the Suburbs Squash Club where his father is employed, Gwidzima cannot sharpen his skills since the facility is closed and is making use of a neighbour’s garage to train.
“I was hoping to do the Dutch Open and the US Open, but my career has been put on hold. I was training and getting ready for the tournaments. I am just running and playing squash in the garage and trying by all means to do what I can,” Gwidzima said.
An update provided by the Ryan Gwidzima Trust indicated that the youngster’s future is now reliant on the aftermath of Covid-19.
Those providing financial assistance for him are not keen to send him back to UK even at the resumption of schooling in September because of fears of the possibility of a second wave of Covid-19 infections.
“His future is now dependent on what transpires with Covid-19. Wycliffe have been informed of our reluctance to send Ryan back in September because there may be a second wave and who would look after him in a prolonged shutdown again, and what would happen if he got sick?” said the trust.
Schools in Bulawayo have been engaged, with a plan in place should Gwidzima remain in the country for a prolonged period.
On the prospect of being in Zimbabwe for a long time, Gwidzima feels players locally will not give him the same competition he got while at Wycliffe.
“It’s going to be quite hard, but if I am to play players here it’s going to be pretty much easy, but I might have to make it hard for myself by giving them points like minus 10 and I would be like on zero. Hopefully my dad can train me one on one and make the most out of it,” he said.
Gwidzima has been at Wycliffe College since 2018, a move which has boosted his chances of becoming a professional squash player.
Some of his achievements since moving to UK are winning the Under-13 boys title at the Hungarian Junior Open in October 2018 and England Squash North West Junior Under-13 boys Championships during the same month.
In September of the same year, Gwidzima finished ninth in the Under-13 boys at the Karakal Welsh Junior Open.
His accomplishments saw him bagging the 2018 Junior Sportsperson of the year at the Annual National Sports Awards held early last year.
Despite the setback, Gwidzima is optimistic he can still become a professional squash player in future since he is training and still in love with the sport. — @Mdawini_29