30 April 2024

The opening bowler and all-rounder also plays for the UMP Cricket Team and joined the provincial team when she was only 16 years old. “I’m a medium-paced opening bowler for the team and bat number 5. I’m one of the best players on the provincial team,” she asserts proudly.

Mgwenya's journey to provincial representation began in 2016 while playing for Malekutu Cricket Academy.
“I boast the best bowling figures of 10-3-18-3 against White River at White River Country Club. This was the performance that catapulted me into the spotlight. This year marks nine years playing for the provincial team,” she reflects.

Her passion for cricket ignited at the age of nine when she started playing with boys in primary school. “I then decided to join cricket. I come from a very disadvantaged background and was the first girl to play cricket in my area.”

"It hasn't been an easy journey though. I encountered initial resistance from both my parents and society due to gender norms. I would sneak off to practice only when my parents were at work, sometimes skipping sessions for days before summoning the courage to return. My mother would often question, 'Where have I ever seen a girl playing cricket with boys?' But instead of deterring me, her doubt fuelled my determination to become the first girl in Malekutu to play cricket. Today, Malekutu boasts a girls' cricket team, a testament to my perseverance in the face of skepticism.”

“Despite the challenges and skepticism I've encountered, nothing could deter my passion for the game; instead, it made me work harder and make a name for myself. I found joy in playing cricket. A special thank you to Coach Sizwe Chiloane who saw the potential in me and has been with me every step of my cricket journey and never gave up on me,” she adds gratefully.

UMPMgwenya envisions a career at the intersection of technology and sports.

Mgwenya finds inspiration in Kagiso Rabada as a medium-paced bowler. “His ability to consistently bowl with pace, accuracy, and control, while also possessing the skill to generate movement off the pitch, makes him my role model,” she shares, highlighting Rabada's mental toughness and competitiveness as exemplary traits.

She emphasizes discipline and planning as crucial in balancing studies and sports. “I’m an organized person. Time management is crucial for ensuring that I give attention to academics and sports. I schedule my practice and study routine. Like any other student, I also deal with mental breakdowns because of the pressure that comes with schoolwork. However, cricket helps me to de-stress. It is very therapeutic and gives me a sense of relaxation and escape from daily stresses.”

“In 2018, during my first year at the University of Mpumalanga, where cricket wasn't available, I joined the Nelspruit club. Presently, I proudly represent the UMP club, competing alongside boys. My fervent hope is to see UMP establish a girls' team someday.”

Mgwenya envisions a career at the intersection of technology and sports, with a focus on cricket, after completing her Diploma in ICT. “One potential path is becoming a sports technology consultant, where I could specialize in implementing and optimizing ICT solutions for cricket teams, leagues, or governing bodies,” she explains.

She aims to fuse her passion for cricket with her expertise in ICT to innovate and make a meaningful impact in the world of sports technology and entertainment. “I could also develop software applications for performance analysis and player tracking, leveraging my knowledge of both ICT and cricket. I could also be a cricket entrepreneur, where I could establish my venture centred around cricket technology, such as wearable devices for player performance monitoring or online platforms for cricket training and development.”

Story by Lisa Thabethe. Pictures supplied.