HARARE – Shingirai Katsvere grew up hearing tales of his two grandfathers – Edward and Lloyd – who distinguished themselves as legendary footballers while wearing the famous blue and white Dynamos shirt.
Coming from such a famous football family, the young Katsvere always dreamed to be a top player in his own rights one day.
Even his parents had earmarked him to continue to carry the family name even when he was still at Adbernie Primary School.
With such a famous surname, it was easy for the young footballer to walk straight into the school team with the coaches thinking that the apple would not fall far away from the tree.
“I remember when I was still in primary school, I tried to play football. I tried both goalkeeping and as an infield player. My parents were very supportive and they encouraged me a lot. They would buy me boots and other stuff but somehow I didn’t enjoy it as much.”
Katsvere’s ultimate goal was to represent the Warriors and probably earn a living as a professional footballer outside the country.
But as fate would have it, his future was totally changed when one day he accompanied his friend to a rugby practice session in 2008.
There is something about rugby that got Katsvere glued and in no time he was enrolled at the Mbare Academy where he quickly established himself as a utility back.
“It was a huge adjustment,” Katsvere said. “It’s kind of like a mix of soccer and football how the game is set up.
“On the physicality level, it is right up there if not more physical than football. The contact is more consistent and I liked it a lot. I like the physical part of the game.”
Since joining Mabare Academy, a brainchild of Victor Pekani and Milton Laken, Katsvere’s parents burden of paying schools disappeared as some of the elite schools were always knocking on their door ready to offer the budding rugby player a scholarship due to his immense talent.
At first, Katsvere joined Prince Edward School before going onto finish his education at Churchill Boys High – two of the most prestigious rugby schools in the country where some of the game’s greats have all learned their craft.
The 20-year old credits his move to Prince Edward where he worked with highly rated coach Shaun De Souza.
“I think that was my stepping stone. That’s where I really learnt how to pass the ball,” he said.
“I feel I was exposed to real rugby at Prince Edward with coach De Souza playing a huge part in my career development. He was more technical. I improved the way I play. He got to show me a lot of things I didn’t know.”
Katsvere’s exploits at Prince Edward especially during the Dairibord Schools Rugby Festival would see him being included in the team that went to represent the country at the Zone V Youth Games in Botswana which was the beginning of good things for him.
In 2015 Katsvere made it into the Zimbabwe Under-18 Craven Week team but to his admission he failed to live up to expectations.
But he was to be afforded another chance to redeem himself the same year this time in the Zimbabwe Under-20 team.
“I was part of the Zimbabwe team that played the Junior World Cup qualifiers. It was one of the best experiences ever in my career,” he said.
“I was one of the young players, we couldn’t win but the experience was invaluable.”
The following year saw Katsvere being called to represent the country once again in the Junior World Trophy.
However, for Katsvere, the tournament almost ended his career as he suffered a serious injury on his shoulder.
It needed Junior Sables assistant and Churchill coach Bob Mahari to convince him to continue.
“It was a bad injury and I felt I would not come back and I thought of quitting,” Katsvere said.
“But thank God, there is a man called Mahari. He pushed me a lot not to quit. I really don’t know what he saw in me. I went on to do my rehab and come back stronger.
“I even worked my way back and went on to represent the country before I joined Old Georgians where I am currently playing.”
His goal now is earning a contract to play outside the country.
“Quite frankly, I want to play professional league one day probably in Super Rugby,” he said.
“I have faith I can get there but I need to work hard. I have a lot of work to do to ensure I reach that level.”
Old Georgians coach Grant Mitchell feels Katsvere has a bright future only if he keeps his head on the ground.
“He is an extremely talented youngster who compliments his talent with hardwork,” Mitchell said.
“He is going to be exciting to watch in the future. For someone of his age, he has good leadership qualities and has great ability to deal with pressure. He has a great energy and a very likeable character too. I think he has quite a bright future.”