BY ALBERT MARUFU
WALKING timidly into the Churchill High School premises as a Form One student in 2005, rookie Zimbabwe rugby team fly-half Tambwera’s dream was to excel in the then famous “Bulldogs” soccer jersey.Having captained Greendale’s Courtney Selous Primary School’s soccer team the previous year, Tambwera hoped to follow the footsteps of the school’s former students, Samson Choruwa, Leo Kurauzvione and Norman Maroto, who came through the schools ranks to become established footballers in the country.
However, fate had mapped for him a career in rugby. In his heart, he wanted respect from other kids and the only way he could get it at a school like Churchill was by playing rugby.
Thus, the highly talented former left back turned to the oval shaped ball. Indeed, he got the respect he was looking for and ended up being the school’s head boy in 2011.
“Initially, I played the sport not because I liked it, but I wanted the respect that came with it,” said Tambwera who, early this year joined the Sharks Academy in South Africa. Tambwera rose through the Churchill High School age groups to become one of the best performers in schools rugby and was spotted by Sharks Academy scouts while playing at the Cottco Rugby Festival last year.
The same year also saw him playing for Zimbabwe at the Craven week in South Africa.
“I did not have problems in fitting in the Harare Sports Club team because last year I was playing for Police Defenders in the Harare Metropolitan League. The team’s senior players such as Jonas Kabhasikoro and Chris Katogo were very helpful,” said the youngster whose elder brother Kudzai played for CAPS United juniors.
However, his biggest moment in his rugby career came two weeks ago when he produced a man-of-the-match performance in his first full international match at the CAR Africa Cup where he scored 17 points –five penalties and one conversion – in Zimbabwe’s 22-18 victory over Uganda.
Tambwera’s first outing
Tambwera made his debut against Tunisia this year. “I had come on as a second half substitution for Tich Makwanya in the semi-final against Tunisia but my first full game was against Uganda in the final. It was very hard but senior players such as Danny Hondo and Tangai Nemadire made it easy for me. My goal is to help Zimbabwe qualify for the 2015 World Cup and also play for the Sharks first team,” he said.
Tambwera vows to match legendary Jonny Wilkinson
Just like his idol — the retired legendary English fly-half Jonny Wilkinson — Tambwera is blessed with a powerful and accurate left foot, great passing and solid tackling skills.
“I grew up admiring the now retired England fly-half Jonny Wilkinson. In five years’ time, I hope to have earned a place in the Sharks first team,” said the youngster who is studying for a B Comm Degree in Marketing at Varsity College in South Africa.
“I have to keep performing to stay at the Academy because competition is very stiff. Every child in Durban dreams of joining the famed Sharks Academy.”
He paid tribute to his former coach at Churchill High School, Jeff Madhake, and his mother Regina who keeps encouraging him.
“Every time that I play at Harare Sports Club, coach Madhake will be there urging me to push myself harder. When I hear his voice, I try not to let him down,” said Tambwera who repeated Form Four in 2009.
However, if there is anything that the highly rated rookie Sables fly-half Tambwera does not want to talk about, it is his age, choosing only to talk about rugby — the game closer to his heart.
“I usually do not want to talk about my age. Is there no way that we can skirt the issue? I only want to talk about the game,” he said with a sparkle in his eyes.
His birth records however show that he is only 19 years old, but under a cloud of mystery, he was dropped from the team that participated at the Junior World Rugby Trophy in the United States of America this year despite having been called in the provisional squad.