Hillary Netsiyanwa’s deep, Dublin brogue sweeps confidently over the backing guitar, the naked love for his home town stitched into every line of the poem he has spent months perfecting before releasing it out into the unending warren that is Spotify.
“I have been places but there is none quite like her,” he starts. “So, take me to Dublin, my adopted home town, home of the forgotten ones, the old, the young, the writers and the painters, the buskers singing rhyming lines for shiny dimes...”
He’s been crafting thoughts and words into shape for as long as he can remember, influenced in no small way by his brother and writer Hailuu and his dad John who could turn his hand to more than a few musical instruments.
To release your innermost feelings on to Spotify is to open a door deep inside and invite the world in but Netsiyanwa isn’t new to that. He was just 16 when he stood on stage at a Face of Africa event in Blanchardstown and shared a poem especially written for the occasion.
“I was a bit shaky at first but I was fine after the first stanza,” he smiles.
Netsiyanwa will be part of a very different performance tomorrow night when his DBS Éanna side take on the favourites Griffith College Templeogue in the final of the Hula Hoops Men’s National Cup at the National Arena in Tallaght.
Basketball and poetry are two of his great passions in life - graphic design is the third - but this is a 26-year old who has amassed a breadth of interests and experiences that would fill the time of a man more than twice his age.
He has studied physical education in Rathmines, where he had a stint as student union president, and IT business in Wales. There have been numerous courses with Harvard Business Publishing, work in sales and for a company on anti-fraud matters.
His interest in basketball stretches beyond three-pointers and rebounds to coaching and he was co-founder of the Dublin Sonics basketball club on Dublin’s northside which now caters for a number of boys and girls teams.
Oh, and he founded Nets Media Managament which specialises in personal and business brand management. All this, more besides, and then his commitments to the DBS Éanna side which is also third in the Super League table having just been promoted.
“The main thing for me, and one thing I always try to preach to younger people, is to try and do as much as you can because that is what you find what you like and what you are good at. For me, I can never be sitting down and just doing one thing.
“If I have variety in my life and I am able to do a couple of things throughout the day... My Monday and Friday look completely different every week and I enjoy that because it keeps me hungry and it keeps me energised. The more I can do the better it is for me.”
Netsiyanwa played with the Dublin Lions before now and there was a stint representing Zimbabwe at the AfroBasket Championships in 2016. His commitment and that of others was writ large by the fact that they had to pay their own fares to and from the tournament due to funding issues.
Zimbabwe didn’t fare all that well at the tournament but their presence was still notable for the fact that among the squad was Robert Mugabe Jnr, son of the country’s president and a man whose time in power lasted 37 years through to 2017.
Mugabe Jnr, whose sporting career was said to be supported by his mother Grace, was again called up to the national squad last year and it prompted some to speculate whether it was his name or his talent that had earned him the call.
He is actually an exceptional player,” said Netsiyanwa. “He had some injuries that have hurt him over the last couple of years and his father’s name carries a lot of weight, positive and negative, towards people but he is a guy who is a worker. He knows exactly what he wants and he does everything he can for his team.”
Netsiyanwa’s coach at Éanna is Monaghan native Darren McGovern who speaks of his 5’ 10” shooting guard in similarly effusive prose. What’s clear is that the affection is mutual since the player made the decision to sign up with them 18 months or so ago.
McGovern came on board at roughly the same time and readily admits that they have climbed much higher much quicker than they expected but there is confidence that the club is well positioned to maintain this altitude regardless of how tomorrow’s decider goes.
“Everyone has made it feel like a family,” said Netsiyanwa.
“The atmosphere we get at games and the support on and off the court, the committee are brilliant. And the coaches. They are building a culture for everyone coming up, that family culture.”