Gems set to resume World Cup preparations next month
Ellina Mhlanga Senior Sports Reporter
THE national senior netball team is expected to resume preparations for the Netball World Cup soon with a camp scheduled for next month.
This was revealed by the Zimbabwe Netball Association president, Letitia Chipandu, following a meeting held over the weekend in Harare.
The meeting by the national association was meant to discuss the programme for this year, including the Gems’ preparations for the forthcoming Netball World Cup which is scheduled to run from July 28 to August 6 in Cape Town, South Africa.
Zimbabwe is one of the four African countries that will battle it out for the top honours at the 16-team tournament.
Most of the qualified teams are gearing up their preparations as the countdown to the event continues.
Chipandu said they are looking at participating at the Inter-East African Club Championships in April as part of the build-up to the Netball World Cup and the team will go into camp next month.
“Mid-February (the) national team is getting into camp to prepare for Inter-East African Club Championships where we have shown interest to go and participate. We are just waiting for the official invitation so that we start preparing.
“We have planned friendlies, East-Africa Club Championships in Kenya (in) April that we intend to go and compete with the countries that are coming to play in East Africa.
“Malawi it’s work in progress, South Africa it’s work in progress, we don’t have definite dates yet.”
Gems coach Ropafadzo Mutsauki emphasised the importance of friendly matches and pointed out that playing top teams will give them a true reflection of their strength and what they need to work on ahead of the Netball World Cup.
The national association has to submit a long list of 30 players by the end of April.
They are looking at various events, including the provincial play-offs, to select some of the players for the long list and they have also indicated there are a number of foreign-based players they have been following.
“By the end of April, a long list of 30 players should be submitted to the World Cup organising committee. This means that the team we already have that has played during the qualifiers as well as during the Diamond Cup is going to be beefed-up from 15 to 30.
“And this is going to give us room to train as many as we can and it also gives us a bigger base for selection into the final 15 that will go to the Netball World Cup,” said Chipandu.
The national association has already received some of the requirements for the Netball World Cup and are working on meeting the deadlines for the submissions needed.
“ZINA is to submit the World Cup designs and colour of the playing kit by 27 January to the World Cup Organising Committee.
“This should show the main sponsors or the main sponsor or the sponsors that we will have had by then so that this is registered and compare with the other countries that are coming to the World Cup, so that there won’t be any clash when we finally go to the World Cup.
“Fundraising is ongoing. Mr Maimba (Mapuranga) is in charge of our fundraising and communication and he has been sending our packages to the different prospective sponsors. We are hoping that we will get sponsorship timeously so that it can also help us with the branding of the kit.
“By end of January, we would have appointed the management team, that is the technical team that’s going to work with the national team for the World Cup and with the advice of the technical head (John) Banda and his team.”
On the other activities for the year, provinces are expected to have done their play-offs by the end of this month and Division One leagues are expected to begin in February.
The Inter-Provincial Division One tournament is scheduled for February 4.