Ellina Mhlanga–Senior Sports Reporter
AFTER missing the Gems’ last assignment in Malawi, upcoming player Nobukhosi Ndlovu is holding her head high as she returns to the team for the Netball World Cup qualifiers scheduled for August 20 to 27 in Pretoria, South Africa.
The 22-year-old travelled with the senior national netball side to Namibia for the Pent Series and Africa Cup last year when she graduated from the Under-21 side. She had an impressive outing.
However, she missed the Confederation of Southern Africa Netball Associations (COSANA) Tri-nations in June as she was down with pneumonia.
She has bounced back into the fold and is part of the 15-member team set to leave for South Africa next week.
“I had pneumonia for three weeks when the team went to Malawi. But I am very happy that I am now back for this one, the World Cup qualifiers.
“In the early days of camp, it was very hard trying to regain my fitness because my endurance was a bit low. But now I am getting there. I am now fit for the World Cup qualifiers,” said Ndlovu.
Ndlovu, who plays centre, wing attack and wing defence, says being around experienced players such as captain Felisitus Kwangwa has been instrumental towards developing her confidence.
Her wish is to play at the Netball World Cup and is keeping her fingers crossed they pull through at the qualifiers.
“I believe in myself. I believe I can do it and I will give my best, more than what I did at the Pent Series and the Africa Championship. This is the bigger event and this opportunity means a lot to me because this is my first time going to the Netball World Cup qualifiers.
“I hope we will qualify for next year’s Netball World Cup. We have been working hard.
“I have gained a lot of experience from the senior players. When I came last year for the Pent Series, I didn’t have the confidence that I can do it. But the likes of Felisitus, Sharon (Bwanali), they kept encouraging me, so I am getting there. I have gained more confidence,” said Ndlovu.
The past weeks have been quite busy for the senior national team preparing for the qualifiers.
Ten countries are expected to compete in the qualifiers, including South Africa and Uganda, who have already secured their spots for next year’s Netball World Cup.
The rest of the participating nations will be vying for the two remaining slots and considering what is at stake, the Gems are aware they have to up their game.
According to the released fixture, the participating countries are grouped into two pools. Zimbabwe are in Pool A, together with hosts South Africa, Namibia, Botswana and Tanzania.
Pool B will feature Uganda, Eswatini, Malawi, Kenya and Zambia.
The top two from each pool proceed to the semi-finals.
Zimbabwe will get the ball rolling against Tanzania. They will face Namibia in their second encounter.
They will then take on South Africa before clashing with Botswana in their last Pool A game. Team
Felisitus Kwangwa, Claris Kwaramba, Priscilla Ndlovu, Tanaka Makusha, Elizabeth Mushore, Tafadzwa Matura, Joice Takaidza, Chipo Shoko, Nicole Muzanenhamo, Progress Moyo, Sharon Bwanali, Nobukhosi Ndlovu, Beaula Hlungwani, Ursula Ndlovu, Patricia Mauladi.