Super Six Sitdown — With Tapiwa Verengai; The 'Assassin' in UZ Sparks' Arsenal


The HBA Super Six comprises of 12 franchises in total – six Men’s teams and six Women’s teams. 

Take just the five starters for each franchise. 

That’s sixty individuals who are toiling in the present to create a future for Zimbabwean basketball that we can all be proud of. These players deserve to be documented. 

Why, you might ask?

Because we will need these players as reference points in that future. We must immortalize our own people and control our own narrative. 

Our children and grandchildren should understand where they came from, so as to help them appreciate where they will be, and envision an even better future for themselves.  

This is why as an extension of the tireless work we have been doing to document the 2023-2024 season of the Super Six, we are introducing a new column on our platform called Super Six Sitdown – an opportunity for you, dear reader, to get to know the names that you keep reading about. 

ALSO READ: HBA Super Six Gameweek 15 Review: Hounds recover, Hornets finally find their sting

In classic interview format, Super Six Sitdown gives you a peek into the lives of your favourite players - their journey, the motivations, their perspectives. 

By the end of the 2023-2024 season, we hope to have documented a decent number of these players who are sacrificing their all for the love of the game. 

Our first ever feature for this column is none other than Tapiwa Verengai, the starting Shooting Guard for UZ Sparks. 

In just her second season playing with UZ Sparks, Verengai has been instrumental in unbeaten run they currently enjoy. 

The 'midrange assasin', as her coach Tongai Munaku fondly calls her, has put points on the board in every game this season, racking up over 150 points with ten games to the finish line.  

We caught up with Tapiwa Verengai on the sidelines of Gameweek 15 played on Youth Day and had this interesting and insightful conversation about how she fell in love with basketball, the trail of success she has had since then, her UZ Sparks experience, as well as what she sees for the future. 


HBA Super Six, Tapiwa Verengai

Can you tell us a bit about yourself? From high school, how you got into basketball, till now - where you are an outstanding player for the leading team in the Super Six? 

I’m a 22 year old who grew up on a dairy farm in Marondera. I started my primary school at Digglefold Primary in Harare, then transferred to Ruware Primary School when we moved in Marondera. 

My dad used to play basketball so that’s how I developed a liking to it. I remember when I was in Grade 4 at Ruware, I used to stand by the fence surrounding the court every day, watching other players train. 

HBA Super Six, Tapiwa Verengai
Early days — Tapiwa Verengai during her high school days 

The basketball coach, his name was Mr Hlatywayo, ended up noticing me and asked me to join. That’s how I started playing basketball.

Since then, I represented Mashonaland East Province at National level, from Grade 6 up until I was in Upper 6. 

I attended high school at Nhowe Mission School from 2015 to 2020.

In 2018, Coach Johnson Shumba (former JBC coach) recruited me to play for JBC, thus making my first appearance in the HBA. In 2021 I moved to UZ Sparks, where I’m currently playing.

How has the Sparks experience been for you? Any words for Sparks admin, coaching staff, and fellow players?

My experience with the team has been great. I've grown a lot in terms of my game they made me a great midrange shooter. I've also grown in terms of values and other things off the court. 

HBA Super Six, Tapiwa Verengai
T for team — UZ Sparks 2023-2024

I'd like to thank the Sparks admin and coaching staff for making me the person I am today, on and off the court. I’d also like to thank my teammates for being awesome friends on and off the court.

Growing up, which basketball player inspired you the most? Any local players you looked up to?

I don't remember looking up to anyone because I hardly watched basketball. 

Any team trophies and individual awards you’ve won so far?

I've forgotten most of them, but the most recent is the National Championship which we (UZ Sparks) won last year. We had taken silver in 2022. We are also the current Zimbabwe Tertiary Institutions Students Union (ZTSU) champions. 

HBA Super Six, Tapiwa Verengai
UZ Sparks at the ZTSU Championships held in Mutare last year. They took gold.

I was the most outstanding player at my Nhowe Mission School from 2015 until I left in 2020. We took third place at the Under 17 National Championships in 2018, and won the title in 2019.

In high school, I got selected for the Under 17 National Team trials but unfortunately, I couldn’t attend because of some reasons.

You're unbeaten this season; and looking to take the Super Six title. What's been the most challenging team so far, which might ruin your chances of winning the title? 

The team that’s a bit challenging is Vixens. Right now, they're trailing us by 2 points and have always been our rivals, as we took the championship from them last season. But I'd like to believe we have a chance of defending our title again this year. I believe in my team.

HBA Super Six, Tapiwa Verengai

Do you think you can go ahead and also defend your National Champs title? 

Ohh yes of course I do believe we can defend our title. My team, including the admin and coaching staff have been putting in the work to make this goal come to pass.

HBA Super Six, Tapiwa Verengai

What else do you do besides playing for UZ Sparks in the HBA? 

I am a second-year student at the University of Zimbabwe, studying towards a Bachelor’s Degree in Smart Technology Applications and Community Development.

How do you balance your life and the demands of the Super Six? 

I just try to give every aspect of my life the required time. 

HBA Super Six, Tapiwa Verengai, UZ Sparks

If it’s time to study then I do that, when it’s time for basketball, I ball; and when it’s time for friends, I do just that.

What do you think can be done to improve the game of Basketball on a school, club and national level? 

On a school level, I think more support is needed for players. Schools should be able to support athletes, take athletes to tournaments nationally and internationally as well. Scholarships could be a good thing that can motivate athletes to perform well. 

HBA Super Six, Tapiwa Verengai

At club level, sponsorship could totally change our game as we need funding for tournaments, equipment, travelling and the like. We also need more publicity for the sport as it showcases our talent as a team to the nation.

What do you see in the future of Zimbabwean basketball? For you, and for the game? 

I'd like to think I will go far with basketball, and maybe get a chance to play for the Senior National team, and even be able to play for foreign teams as well.

HBA Super Six, Tapiwa Verengai

As for Zimbasket (as HBA players dub it), I think the sport can go far in the future. With the talent that's there currently, and also if new talent is scouted and discovered; then we're talking of a different ball game.

What do you have to say to any little girl out there who aspires to become a basketball player and shine in the Super Six just like you?

Follow your dreams do not listen to people who tell you 'masports anofoirisa' (sports will ruin academic performance) that’s not true. Just work hard and most importantly pray. In the end, it always pays off.

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