WHILE the Gems can now fully focus their energy in preparing for their maiden dance at the Netball World Cup scheduled for Liverpool, England, next month after receiving sponsorship from two corporate entities on Wednesday, the Zimbabwe Netball Association have to draw critical lessons on corporate governance.
The Gems will be playing in the Netball World Cup for the first time and every Zimbabwean need to rally behind the girls.
However, their preparations for the quadrennial tournament haven’t been easy going save for the few occasions that the Government had to intervene and back them to play in friendlies in South Africa and Uganda.
However, their administration have spent more time moving with a begging bowl to secure funding for the World Cup trip.
On Thursday night, a fund-raising dinner was held for the Gems and First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa rallied behind the team and gave them US$15 000 which will go towards their trip to the UK for the global showpiece which is set to run from July 12-21 in Liverpool.
And on Wednesday, Econet and Cassava Smartech poured in a combined $422 000 (in local currency) and partnered the team for the global fiesta.
But, that both companies had to chip in at the eleventh hour puts into perspective the fact that the so-called small sports associations have to plan well ahead of time to prevent the last-minute rush.
It is common knowledge that the country’s three biggest sport codes —football, cricket and rugby — rarely struggle when it comes to securing sponsorship whenever they embark on international tours.
But the same cannot be said about other codes including netball. Therefore, the authorities heading those associations should always make sure they put in place measures to address these issues well in time.
The Zimbabwe Netball Association was supposed to have put in place a fund-raising committee well before January this year to see to it that all financial requirements for the team were met for both preps and the competition itself. Instead, the association wasted most of their time and energy squabbling with a rival league over player selection.
That was a bad advertisement for the sport and it could have probably contributed to sponsors shying away. It was a bad way to start preparations for a tournament as big as the World Cup.
Though there have been some positive developments inasfar as sponsorship is concerned for the team, the preparations were not as good as the team would have wanted.
It is not only netball which has been found wanting in this respect. The Zimbabwe Handball Federation has on several occassions failed to send teams to various international competitions for the same reason.
Just recently, the Zimbabwe Korfball team were embarrassed after they were expelled from what was supposed to be their maiden World Cup.
The global showcase is on this July in Durban, South Africa, but Zimbabwe were thrown out after failing to pay the requisite £4 000 participation fee.
For a team which had done so well to secure their berth in the qualifiers staged in Zimbabwe in April last year to miss the grand opportunity in such circumstances was as painful as it was embarrassing.
The Zimbabwe Korfball leadership tried put in place a fund-raising committee at the last minute, but it was too little too late.
Local karatekas are also in the same boat, as they have of late missed a number of international competitions due to funding bottlenecks with the Zimbabwe Karate Union leadership always taking out the begging bowl.
This is also the case with athletics, volleyball, badminton, tennis, squash, chess, hockey and several other minority sport codes. This therefore calls for a holistic and professional approach to addressing issues like these.
Unfortunately, the majority of these national sport associations don’t have full-time administrators and are run on a voluntary basis, a sad scenario which has hampered the development of sports which are still being played at a social level with no professional structures in place.