Ellina Mhlanga, Sports Reporter
Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation Minister Kazembe Kazembe has hailed the senior netball team after they secured a maiden ticket to the 2019 World Cup to be hosted by England.
The Gems put up a remarkable show at the joint World Cup qualifier and African Championships in Lusaka, Zambia, last week to earn their place at the global event.
Kazembe said the latest achievement by the senior side was an indication of the potential netball has as the national teams have continued to put the country on the world map. Last year the Under-21 side made its debut appearance at the World Youth Cup in Botswana.
“I am equally overjoyed as a Minister mandated to preside over sport by the qualification by our senior netball team for the first time to the World Cup to be held in Liverpool, England in 2019.
“The convincing performances by the Gems were a compelling statement on potential and talent residing in our domain and a clear indication of our country’s netball latent power in raising the national flag.
“Following our recent show of character in Zambia, and mindful that this is not the first time our netball teams have carved success stories, it gives me great joy to appreciate the efforts invested by our players, coaches, administrators, corporate world as well as the netball community,” said Kazembe.
The tournament in Lusaka attracted seven countries with Malawi, who had already qualified for the World Cup because of the International Netball Federation world ranking vying for the African title that was eventually won by Uganda. South Africa also qualified for next year’s event by the virtue of their rankings and did not take part in Zambia.
This left six countries – Uganda, Botswana, Kenya, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe contesting for the two slots that were available for the World Cup.
Zimbabwe and Uganda claimed the two spots to be part of next year’s event to take place from July 12 to 21, in Liverpool, England. Kazembe pledged Government’’s support for the team as they shift their focus to the World Cup.
“Our desire as a Ministry is to ensure that our athletes and coaches are oriented and conditioned in the fundamental areas befitting an event of this magnitude such as the psychological, physical, cognitive and morale aspects of the game through engagement of specialists to prepare our girls for the event.
“Furthermore, as a Ministry we stand ready to support the Gems in arranging friendly matches particularly with renowned World powerhouses. As the Ministry responsible for Sport, we have not ceased to support our national teams in terms of creating a conducive environment to perform better.
“In order to ensure that our netball team participates successfully at the World Cup, Government will continue to render support available to the national teams through SRC. However, there is need for the corporate world to assist both financially and in kind,” Kazembe said.