Grace Chingoma Senior Sports Reporter
THE Zimbabwe Netball Association are once again under spotlight albeit for the wrong reasons after they failed to facilitate the junior national team to travel to South Africa where they were invited to feature at the Spar Challenge International Netball Test Series as curtain-raisers.
The national Under-21 side failed to get into camp, forcing Netball South Africa to replace them with Lesotho at the last minute.
They were invited to play as curtain-raisers in the Spar Challenge International Netball Test Series which featured hosts South Africa and England.
The Young Gems were scheduled to play against Spar Baby Proteas, curtain-raising all the three games which ended in Cape Town yesterday.
Disappointingly, Netball South Africa was going to cater for the travelling expenses to Cape Town and host the team in the Mother City.
But the troubled and clueless Leticia Chipandu-led ZINA, who have been ordered by the Sports Commission to hold their elections by January 3, could not organise a short training camp for the players they had selected to play against Spar Baby Proteas.
Bulawayo-based club Gold Reef, who had provided six players in the Young Gems team, were devastated that the players, who were looking forward to a big opportunity of playing South Africa at the weekend, were denied the chance by the association.
To make matters worse, ZINA never bothered to communicate with the clubs and players who only learnt of the sad development from the mainstream media.
Gold Reef players Nicole Muzanenhamo, Thando Sibanda, Nobhukhosi Ndlovu, Khayelitsa Mabhena, Nokuthula Mbano and Sinethemba Ncube were selected to represent the Zimbabwe Under-21 team.
But they never made the trip for the training camp.
Their coach Samuel Riyano told The Herald that it has not been easy to nurse the heartbreak of the players, who are still young and eager to market themselves.
“As a coach I feel so disappointed, this was an opportunity for the youngsters, they were going to learn from South Africa and England. So it was going to be a good experience for the three defenders and three shooters who were in the team . . . It’s really a setback.
“We don’t really understand how they failed to fulfil the trip. If it was about bus fares to Harare, they could have communicated with teams. Our club sponsor is passionate about the sport and would have funded our players, other clubs could have done that as well.
“Last week at training, the players were really down. I even failed to motivate them. There was no communication from ZINA we only saw a newspaper article.
“It’s a sad story,” said Riyano.
Rainbow Amateur Netball League secretary-general Moses Gukurume said the development was a sad day for netball.
“It is a very unfortunate development especially when it comes hard on the heels of our participation on the world stage by the Gems.