Twenty seven (27) year old Rutendo Beverly Mpofu, was born in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe. In September 2015 she started a basketball team, Lynx Ball Queens, with four other women, Tanya Kazembe, Celestine Karimbika, Sarah Kabiseni and Melisa Maganga. Beverly is the team captain and currently plays number 15. She also holds a Communications and Media with Management degree from Monash University in South Africa.
One doesn't have to be social but on the court there has to be unity Click To Tweet
When did you decide to start a basketball team?
I joined a basketball ladies association team soon after my undergraduate degree, but realised we had different goals. This pushed me to start my own team. At first there was a lot of slacking and not taking things seriously.
But, after the loss of one of the team founders, we decided to be serious about the team. We joined another team called Hustlers in Mufakose, Harare and after a while we branched out on our own to become Lady Hustlers. We recently rebranded to Lynx Ball Queen.
We started out small with a group of about seven women and now we are more than 12. Our team is made up of women between 16 – 27 years of age. Within our first year we managed to make it to the top six in the national league with only seven players. It was really challenging but we were happy with the results. Last year (2016) we were number two. So I clearly see a great improvement.
Where do you get your sponsorship?
We currently do not have sponsorship, because a lot of people feel that there are no returns in basketball therefore they do not want to sponsor it. We have approached many people and Net-One (a telecommunications company in Harare) has given us t-shirts before. We take whatever small donation we get and are open to working for our sponsorship.
Because we do not have sponsorship, we purchase our own kits, and cover transportation costs to and from training and tournaments. A subscription fee of $10 is paid every month by each team member, but because of the current economic conditions we have agreed that people pay whatever they can. This is what is used for the basic running of the club.
Where does your inspiration come from?
My brother used to play since primary school. So that was my grand entrance into basketball. All the women on the team started playing when they were young, so it’s just a passion for most of us.
What does a normal day look like for you?
We train during the week but it is very challenging to get everyone in the same spot at the same time because of our many different commitments. We have players that are still in school and some work, so we have to incorporate training with other clubs that have venues with good lighting. This is so that we are able to train late into the evening. We generally try to put in work where we can.
On the day of the tournament, we do not train. We sit, talk and strategise and do warm ups 15 mins before a game. It also helps if we know the people we are playing.
Which women have been the most influential in your life?
My Mother. She continues to teach me that you can’t wait for other people to do things for you. You need yourself first before you need someone else.When you get on the court, you leave your quarrels on the line Click To Tweet
What is the greatest lesson you have learnt when setting up your team?
To be patient. I deal with people from different backgrounds who have so many things going on, so I have really learnt to be patient.
How do you manage conflict within the team?
When one gets on the court, they leave their quarrels on the line, they can always pick them up after if they choose. But basketball time is basketball time. One doesn’t have to be social but on the court there has to be unity. That being said, people don’t bring their problems on the court.
What personal traits are necessary for what you do?
- A high basketball IQ. One should be able to take theory and apply it on the court.
- A fighting spirit and perservance.
- The ability to work within a team and realise that one cannot do everything by themselves.
Do you run a business in the sports industry?
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