Tinashe Marowa’s second stint in Nelson has proved just as life-changing as his first.
The 20-year-old had a breakout season for Tasman United in the franchise’s debut national season and it looks set to propel him to bigger and better things in football.
On the eve of the team’s last game, a 5-2 win at Trafalgar Park against Southern United, the diminutive attacker returned to Nelson Central School and the ESOL class he had been in 12 years prior.
Tinashe spent six months at the school after arriving as a refugee from Zimbabwe.
He did not speak any English, but now he has ambitions of playing for the All Whites.
Tinashe scored in the win on Saturday. As he celebrated he looked for his English teacher from 12 years earlier, spotted her and gave her a thumbs up.
“I wouldn’t have guessed the season would have played out like it has.
“I came down [from Auckland] on trial and I managed to do enough to make the team, and them playing with quality strikers like Paul Ifill and Ernie [Ermal Hajdari] has helped my game so much.”
Tinashe has spent the past fortnight training with the Wellington Phoenix and has picked up a short-term contract with the Wellington Phoenix Reserves.
His ultimate goal of playing for the All Whites may take him to bigger and better things than Tasman United, but Tinashe says Nelson will always hold a special place with him.
Tinashe says it was a great experience to go back to Nelson Central School on Tuesday.
“I really enjoyed it, and to see the kids who were in the same boat I was when I was eight was very humbling.
“To have my old teacher Brenda Black watching was great.”
Tinashe was named Tasman United Young Player of the Year for his attacking exploits, which saw him lead the team’s golden boot standings until Paul Ifill scored four on Saturday.
Cameron Lindsay was named Player of the Year after a rock-solid and dependable season.
Tasman finished eighth in the 10-team league with four wins, five draws and nine losses in their debut season.
They finished ahead of Hamilton Wanderers and Southern United.
The hard work starts again for season two.