MAPUTO (FIBA Women's AfroBasket 2017) - The life of Ingvild Mucauro - Mozambique's player of the moment - will never be the same again in a few months' time.
In August, she will graduate from Mozambique's University Eduardo Mondlane Medical School.
Obviously thinking about how our national team qualified for the world cup four years ago gives us a lot of motivation as a team - Mucauro
In the space of four years, Mucauro has gone from being a fan to becoming an integral element of Mozambique women's national team.
Four years ago, the 24-year-old was among thousands of local fans celebrating Mozambique's qualification for the FIBA Women's Basketball World Cup 2014 despite finishing runners-up as hosts of FIBA Women's AfroBasket 2013.
Now, the two-time MVP of the Mozambique women's championship looks eager to replicate that historic moment.
And, in order to secure one of the two tickets on offer for African teams for next year's FIBA Women's Basketball World Cup in Spain, Mucauro promises to do everything in her power to help Mozambique reach the final of the upcoming 12-team FIBA Women's AfroBasket in Mali.
"It’s going to be challenging for us because everyone aims at the same goal of qualifying for the world championship," Mucauro said to FIBA.com, adding:"But if we work hard, anything is possible. We are not going to Mali to make up numbers."
Mozambique in March (9-10) secured their place in the Final Round of FIBA Women's AfroBasket thanks to two wins against Zimbabwe, and although they will head to the Bamako basketball showpiece trailing title contenders Mali, Nigeria and Senegal - in terms of favouritism - the Ferroviario de Maputo guard insists "it's all about belief.
"We are going to take one game a time, and we’ll see our chances. Obviously thinking about how our national team qualified for the world cup four years ago gives us a lot of motivation as a team. It gives me goosebumps every time I think about it."
Since that historic qualification, three experienced players - Deolinda Ngulela, Clarisse Machanguana and Ana-Flavia Azinheira - retired from the national team.
Yet, a new wave of talents such as Mucauro, Isabel Mavamba, Dionilde Cuamba and Vilma Covane look good enough to keep Mozambique among Africa's top teams.
"We are fighters," Mucauro said, acknowledging the huge responsibility of bearing the national flag at international competitions such as the FIBA Women's AfroBasket.
"Nevertheless," she says, "We have already shown that we can compete. We are still experiencing a learning process on the international stage, but we believe in ourselves, and the self-confidence makes us a solid group of players."
Family a key factor
Asked to elaborate student/athlete routine, the Chimoio native pointed to her family as the backbone of her resilience.
"They have always supported me. As a former basketball player, my mother has inspired me to keep playing basketball. And my father always reminded that it's possible to become a good basketball player as well as a good student."
Should she remains injury-free, Mucauro could become a major factor for Mozambique's FIBA Women's Basketball Cup aspirations.
This year's FIBA Women's AfroBasket will take place from September 15-24 in Bamako.