“A dream come true”

Zimbabwe’s Mutsa Bera on the prospect of playing at the FIH Hockey Women’s Junior World Cup

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Zimbabwe Under-21 women hockey team captain Mutsa Bera (left)

Ahead of the 9th edition of the FIH Hockey Women’s Junior World Cup taking place in South Africa (1-12 April), the International Hockey Federation (FIH) are conducting a series of exclusive interviews with the participating teams. Below they talk to Zimbabwe captain Mutsa Bera on how it feels for her to represent Zimbabwe at the FIH Women’s Junior World Cup.

FIH: Mutsa, how does it feel to play a World Cup?

Mutsa Bera: It feels really surreal. It is a dream come true. Not just for myself but for my teammates as well. It’s something that we’ve all been working towards and all been dreaming about for years now. It’s a challenge but an exciting one for all of us. So it’s something we’re all looking forward to and I am particularly excited about.

FIH: What are your expectations for the tournament?

Mutsa Bera: As a team, we’re really looking to push for a podium finish. That is the big goal. But I think it’s really to learn a lot by playing in such a big event, taking up the challenge, putting up a fight, enjoying our hockey, making sure we’re having fun as we play. Expecting to make a mark for Zimbabwe as well as Zimbabwe hockey to really show how much we’ve been preparing and how ready we are to do this.

FIH: Zimbabwe have played this competition three times in the past, including the last edition in 2016. Will you be talking to players from that time to get some insights?

Mutsa Bera: Yes, definitely. I think it’s always important to reach out to people who have gone before you to understand exactly what it feels like, the atmosphere, how they dealt with coming onto this world stage. Getting insights into things they felt they needed to work on, on what they felt worked well. It’s always important to make sure that you get that feedback for us to go out there and perform well.

FIH: You’re in a pool with the Netherlands, Canada and the USA. Any comments on these teams?

Mutsa Bera: These are some really top teams. When we first saw the pool, it was a bit daunting, but it’s a challenge we are excited to come up against. It only pushes us to produce hockey of the highest calibre.

FIH: As the captain of the team, will you have a specific message to your teammates?

Mutsa Bera: The first thing is that I am absolutely proud of them, how passionate they are, how hard they’ve been working, how dedicated they’ve been for the past couple of years at working at this. They are there for a reason. They’re capable of doing the most amazing things. So many people behind them are so proud of them. I’m just committing and promising to walk this journey with them, being there to support them and see them through, just for them to keep believing in themselves, in the hockey they’ve been playing and understanding that they’ve got what it takes to really do well.

FIH: Have you already played in South Africa?

Mutsa Bera: Yes. In secondary school, we went there for tours and it was a really nice experience. We learnt a lot and also played in a different environment and understand what the climate is like as well to play in South Africa.

FIH: How will you prepare for this event?

Mutsa Bera: We will work on our team structure and also make sure that we are all fit. Fitness is one of the big things that we will need to have to be able to play well and play that amount of matches. And working on the recovery as well.

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