Sikhumbuzo Moyo, Senior Sports Reporter
ANNE Joy Muchenu is elated to have officiated at the Commonwealth Games held in the Gold Coast of Australia despite Zimbabwe having pulled out of the Commonwealth in 2003.
Muchenu (41) was appointed by the International Basketball Federation for the basketball event of the Games.
“It’s a wonderful experience. Being part of it was so exciting. I never thought I would be called up for these Games. But now I’m thinking that I would go to the next Commonwealth Games again,” said Muchenu.
She said while she was happy to have represented Zimbabwe, the job was not smooth sailing, as there were many demands compared to officiating at home.
“Back home our level of competition is still a bit low, so I had to adjust quickly and get ready to officiate any kind of game. We normally arrive early before the competition like three days before and then we have training camps. The other challenge I faced is about the way we do our things back home. It is not that professional since our league is still at amateur level where we use 2PO officiating where two referees officiate games, but here at the Commonwealth Games we use 3PO where three referees officiate. So adjusting from 2PO to 3PO is not easy,” she said.
She, however, said the experience had made her believe that nothing was impossible with determination.
“The lesson I’ve learnt is that the sky is the limit. I can be anything or do anything that I want to do. All I have to do is to work harder and ensure self discipline and take each game back home as professionally as possible. The other challenge we face back home is the equipment. The game clock, the shot clock and even the courts are not up to standard. We play basketball outdoors and officiate outdoors. But here at the Commonwealth Games, games are played indoors,” she said.
Meanwhile, the Sports and Recreation Commission hailed the appointment of Muchenu, saying it was an indication that women were making strides in the previously male dominated territories.
“The SRC notes with great pleasure and joy how ladies in sport are raising the bar at an international level in a field which is largely dominated by their male counterparts. Muchenu has raised the bar at the Commonwealth Games; this is not only a plus on her profile, which is on the rise, but is also a vote of confidence in her abilities.
While it is understandable that we are not a member of the Commonwealth, Joyce’s direct appointment by FIBA is a demonstration that Zimbabwe is a force to reckon with in terms of its human technical capacities, which are second to none,” said SRC communications manager Tirivashe Nheweyembwa.
He said Muchenu has defied the popular gospel that women in Zimbabwe were marginalised in sport and urged other women tobelieve in themselves and aim to walk in the footsteps set by Muchenu, who was named Zimbabwe’s Technical Official of the Year at the Annual National Sports Awards last year.
“As the SRC, we are glad that the gospel of women empowerment is not hollow, but real.
With that we would like to urge other women to go there and challenge the status quo by being directly involved in sporting activities, acquire the necessary qualifications and only then will they start to rise through the ranks. Women must earn their stripes in a credible manner and once they do so they write their own piece of history, which will be envied by many. We therefore want to salute you Joyce and let your star continue to shine like a polished diamond,” said Nheweyembwa.