SSN celebrated the winners of the 2014 Player of the Year Contest at a colorful awards ceremony on January 15 at Vanilla Moon Cafe in Emerald Hill. The ceremony included sponsors Mark Manolios and Econet Wireless as well as family and friends of the four winners, media and SSN partners. The four nationally ranked student athlete winners received the most online votes out of a field of 10 finalists.
Brian Mada of St Faith’s High School in Rusape won Player of the Year for his achievements in athletics. Mada, a self-coached triple jumper, won gold at the recent AUSC Region 5 Games with a record jump of 15,65m. He won Silver in South Africa at the Southern Champs in May and Gold at the NASH national athletics finals held at Peterhouse in March, where he jumped 15.2, smashing Ngoni Makusha‘s long standing record.
Ratidzo Mutangadura, who just finished Form 4 at Chisipite Senior School, won Player of the Year for her outstanding performance in the pool. Ratidzo recently was a youth representative for Zimbabwe at the World Swimming Championships in Doha and represented Zimbabwe in individual and relay events at the Region 5 Games. Having broken several of Kirsty Coventry‘s high school records, Ratidzo has collected many gold medals at Zimbabwean swim meets in 2014 and is a bright light in the future of Zimbabwe swimming.
Lebogang Ngwenya of St George’s College was the male runner-up in the contest. Lebo represented Zimbabwe this year in three different sporting disciplines – rugby, swimming and waterpolo. He was part of the Craven Week Zimbabwe side in June, swam in the Region 5 games in December, and played on the Zimbabwe team at World Cup qualifying waterpolo matches in South Africa.
Ruvarashe Mzinde of Hillcrest College in Mutare was the female runner-up for her achievements on the track. Ruva continues to be Zimbabwe’s fastest female 100m and 200m sprinter. She represented Zimbabwe at World Youth Championships in the Ukraine in 2013 and at the Southern African Championships in South Africa in May 2014. At the Region 5 games, Ruva earned a personal best of 12,23 in the 200m and ran the fastest leg to bring the 4x100m team home to win bronze.
Former Zimbabwe Olympic Committee member and current life President of Zimbabwe Hockey, Mark Manolios, spoke to the winners at the ceremony, reminding them to focus on training for one sport at a high level and to keep positive attitudes and determination as their core values. He and his daughter Kristina awarded vouchers for their sports stores to the winners, who also received data bundles from Econet.