Maybe one day Zimbabwe will wake up to the headline reading “Chevrons batsman Tugwete in Warriors Afcon squad” because the boy is good in soccer, so good that he attracted the attention of Barcelona when he was a 11-year-old Hartman House pupil.
In cricket, Taurayi Tugwete played at the under-19 World Cup in South Africa in January 2020. He is a prodigy who also captained Zimbabwe at the African Youth Olympics in Algiers in 2018 and was also a national squash player from U13 to U19.
The former Hartman House and Falcon College pupil is currently on a soccer scholarship at Angelina College in the USA.
His story, like that of American basketball player Kevin “KD” Durant, involves a mother who would wake him up early in the morning to go practice. Tugwete lost his dad when he was three and his mother, Vongai, has been supportive of his dreams.
Tugwete chats to Brighton Zhawi In The Oval. Read on …
BZ: There is a sense that cricket could lose or has already lost you to football?
TT: I wouldn’t say cricket has completely lost me to football because life is unpredictable, anything can happen. But I do love my football.
BZ: How many times have you been asked about the Barcelona scouts approach story?
TT: Nearly as much as the number of stars in the sky.
(At the age of 11 Tugwete caught the eye of the Catalan side, after scoring 19 goals in five games in a five-a-side tournament at Lusitania Primary School. Hartman House scored 23 goals at the tournament).
BZ: And how do you respond to that?
TT: Like I said earlier on in January (in an interview with The Sunday Mail before departing to the U19 Cricket World Cup), it wasn’t really my decision. There were many factors my mother put into consideration. She had to make a tough choice and I respect her decision because at the end of the day she only wants what’s best for me.
BZ: And the move to Angelina College. How is that one?
TT: My season went well. We made the play-offs for the first time in Angelina’s programme. Through God I managed to get into the 2019 All Region Team of the Year.
BZ: You love your football, or soccer as they like to call in the States, and you are brilliant in cricket, not to mention hockey and squash. Earlier you said a lot can happen … so maybe the future has Zimbabwe Warriors and Chevrons player Taurayi Tugwete …
TT: (laughs) that would be lovely but not ideal for me because at the end of the day I don’t want to be known as the “Jack of all trades but master of none”.
BZ: You can be master of these two. Your soccer is so good that Zimbabwe legend Moses Chunga acknowledges you are a star, so does BN Academy coach, Bheki Nyoni, while in cricket your former coach Prosper Utseya is full of superlatives as well …
TT: I really appreciate their opinions of me. Bheki Nyoni helped me from a very young age and improved my game. Prosper Utseya backed my ability and I thank him for that. But they aren’t the only ones who deserve mention you know. So many people have shaped me into the person I am today and those people know themselves.
BZ: One, for sure, is your mom who used to wake you up in the morning for training. How often do you reflect on those days?
TT: I still don’t forgive her for that (laughs). I’m joking – I do think about those days often because I’ve come to realise there’s no growth in our comfort zones and at the time I thought it was pointless but now years later I’m grateful she did because it has shaped me into who I am.
BZ: Last week I had a chat with Bawa. Did you guys realise what he achieved at the Under 19 cricket World Cup?
TT: I was so happy for him at the World Cup, particularly the century he got versus Canada, it was absolutely golden, it was also pretty special for me to score a half century with him being on the other end.
BZ: You had some good batting partnerships with Bawa. What clicked for you guys?
TT: I just see him as my little brother even though he’s way bigger than me (laughs) and we just understand each other and get along so well. I’ve seen some of his darkest days and have been there for him at times when no-one was there. Dion Myers, Gareth Chirawu, Emmamuel Bawa and I have a group on Whatsapp where we keep in touch quite often, we’re all really good mates.
BZ: On that one, I understand after every cricket training you would go say “thank you for the training” to your coaches?
TT: Yes, simply because you don’t lose anything as a person from saying “thank you”. Coaches take time out of their day to help us so it only makes sense to me to thank them.
BZ: Do you do the same at Angelina?
TT: Sadly not all the time, sorry to coach Fergie.
BZ: What are you studying?
TT: Business Administration.
BZ: When do you finish your studies?
TT: I complete my Associate Degree in May 2021.
BZ: Meaning more soccer days with the Roadrunners (Angelina College), your current love?
TT: You could put it that way if you’d like.
BZ: We hope you won’t be another Zimbabwe’s lost talent …
TT: Thank you, I hope so too. But with God by my side, there’s not much I should worry about.