But, while Mazhawidza was succeeding on the cricket pitch, the time he dedicated to building his cricket career had a negative impact on his academics.
“When I failed my O levels in Grade 10, my father insisted I focus more on my academics. He asked me if I had considered what I would do if I got injured on the cricket field. That question changed my mindset, and I started focusing more on my education.”
Two years later, after finishing his A levels, Mazhawidza started looking at universities where he could enroll for a psychology degree. Many of his friends had obtained scholarships to attend the University of the Western Cape (UWC) through the Sports Skills for Life Skills (SS4LS) programme.
The SS4LS is a sport and educational “non-profit organisation that assists young sports players from marginalised communities to gain access to further education”. Nicolas Kock – the current Executive Director of SS4LS – was serving as a mentor at SS4LS at the time and helping cricketers with career planning. He advised Mazhawidza to join the UWC cricket team and pursue industrial psychology. In 2012 he did just that and enrolled for a BA Psychology degree.
“I wanted to be a clinical psychologist because of the passion I have for assisting people, so when I came to UWC I had applied for two programmes, one of which was my father’s decision, which was Economics, and Sports Science because I knew I could get into psychology through that degree,” explains Mazhawidza who is a qualified industrial psychologist today.
He holds BA Psychology, BCom Honours in Industrial Psychology, and MCom in Industrial Psychology degrees from UWC. While at UWC, he worked at SS4LS.
“Sports Skills for Life Skills gave me a foundation for what I am doing today. While I was working on my Master’s I focused on NGOs and their HR practices.”
Because of his interest in the NGO sector and social impact, Mazhawidza worked for organisations like the Usapho Foundation, and Western Province Cricket Association. Through his own NGO, he partnered with other NPOs such as Won Life, and the Foundation for Sports Development and Peace, to help the youth.
In 2018, the exceptionally talented cricketer put down his bat as a competitive player. He founded Future Pathways Consultants (Pty) Ltd. a year later. Not too long after, he registered it as a non-profit and brought two directors, Phelo Sifile and Shannin Jones, on board. Sifile and Jones are currently completing postgraduate degrees in Industrial Psychology. Mazhawidza has worked with disadvantaged schools such as Rosendaal High School, Hector Peterson High School, Windermere High School and Habibia Primary School.
“Our aim is to curb youth unemployment in Southern Africa by designing, implementing, and raising career awareness in educational institutions. Over the years l have noticed how young people lack career guidance, which has proven to be effective if it is implemented properly, and results in purpose, meaning, self-awareness, career direction and academic improvement for the youth.” He is currently completing a PhD through action research to design and implement career intervention programmes to help Grade 12 learners enhance their career maturity when making career choices.
“The research aims to explore seven variables that influence Grade 12 career choices: teachers, schools, policies, career exploration activities, parents, personal agency, and environmental background. The end goal is to raise career awareness and education about these variables and appeal to policy makers to implement a Career Development Act in South Africa.
“This is particularly important as employers are concerned with graduates who lack the competencies and skills to do the tasks required of them.”
To assist young people in public and disadvantaged schools in the Western Cape, the organisation has worked with various schools to implement career programmes which are offered annually to assist Grade 7-12 learners.
“Learners attend various workshops to get to know who they are, make career decisions, gather information about various careers, and interact with various professionals from different industries based on their choices. They also have the opportunity to gather relevant information that will assist them when they start applying for funding, and to university and college.”
Mazhawidza firmly believes in giving back, and in 2023 will select five disadvantaged schools to receive free careers services. The NPO is welcoming any funding that will help them assist learners in 2023.
He is also employed as Lead Tertiary Student Support-Career Development at the NGO, The Tomorrow Trust, where he has worked with students at Stellenbosch University, the University of Cape Town and Rhodes University.
Looking back on his own career, Mazhawidza’s advice to the youth is that it is important to “know what you want” and to find a “problem in the world that you can solve or that you can contribute towards solving”. He also advises getting a mentor and sharing their dreams with them.
“That’s what makes it real,” he says, adding that it is also important to be the master of your own destiny and for you to decide how you will get to your destiny.
“But you also need to have purpose and meaning to get to that dream. If I did not know what my purpose was and what I was fighting for, I would not have had a vision. It’s your vision that keeps you motivated and the people you meet along the way that inspire you. I was blessed to come across the right people who elevated me and gave me opportunities.”
While Mazhawidza may have chosen a different career path to the one many thought he’d follow, it is still cricket, he says “that made me who I am today”.
Should you want to support Future Pathways Consultants, please feel free to contact Dean Mazhawidza at 076 433 2594.