Hilton Mudariki- Coping as an Athlete During a Pandemic

By Melissa Katunga

“For me, one thing that I want is to differentiate Hilton the rugby player as most people would know me, and Hilton the person.” – Hilton Mudariki

Hilton Mudariki is a Zimbabwean Professional Rugby Player who is currently The Zimbabwe Rugby Union Sables Captain and has been a lover of the sport since the young age of 4. Ndeipi Magazine managed to have a sit down with the young athlete to discuss his incredible journey thus far as well as how he is coping whilst on a rugby break.

Following his first year out of school Hilton acquired a contract to go to the Western Province, after two years he decided to further his education. He went on to study at the University of Johannesburg where he obtained his degree in Sports Psychology which married perfectly with his passion for the sport.

He played in the Varsity Rugby Cup, which is a prominent rugby competition at university level which is where he was scouted and acquired his first senior professional contract. He then moved to the United Kingdom and spent two years there before the uncertainty of Covid-19 derailed his plans slightly as he had to return home to Zimbabwe with one year remaining on his contract. 

Hilton has also had the privilege of playing for Zimbabwe, from Under ’20s. He is now captaining the Zimbabwe National Men’s Team, The Sables and has played 28 caps thus far.

As a sportsman it has been a difficult adjustment however to put his passion for rugby on hold and rather than remaining idle Hilton has had to get used this time to focus on building his brand and personal portfolio.

He was approached by a local company called Play by Play, specialising in media and marketing who felt Hilton was an ideal candidate to work with. During his rugby career, Hilton had always had thoughts of growing his brand however never had enough time to do so in between intense training and international rugby games. The silver lining to his current situation, however, is that he now has the opportunity to take the time to work on this.

Whilst working with Play by Play Hilton has secured a brand ambassadorship with The Newlands Country Club and he is honoured and privileged to be part of the Country Club family. As he grows his branding efforts he is focusing on himself as an individual, not just the rugby player and says, ‘you do not want your life to based around sport, because once that is taken away you may struggle to find your identity without it. This period has given me the opportunity to learn about who I am without rugby.’ 

Hilton’s daily routine consists of a 6 am wakeup call for some stretching followed by a session at Grip gym located at Newlands Country Club at about 8 am followed by a second session later in the day at 4 pm. He is still working with his trainer who is based in the United Kingdom who switches up his workouts every week to avoid repetition. His continued training keeps his body in the right form for any other surprises that may come his way, if 2020 has taught us anything it is to be prepared for the unknown!

He has also started dabbling in commodity trading, which came about after having conversations with his peers during this lockdown period about what his future plans would be without rugby and what he wanted to achieve. He has been pushing this for a couple of months and has kept him busy and active meeting different influential people and he might take it on full time following his rugby career.

Hilton’s resilience is inspiring. Living with uncertainty of when he will be able to return to his previous sporting career he remains motivated for his future, no matter which path he takes or whatever life may throw at him and continues to adjust whilst moving forward no matter the circumstances.

To continue with Hilton on his journey follow him on Instagram @hilton_mudariki

Originally published in the December 2020 Issue of Ndeipi Magazine

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