Netball Association rope in Spar Zim

Grace Chingoma Senior Sports Reporter

AS they begin corporate engagements ahead of the 2023 Netball World Cup qualifiers, the Zimbabwe Netball Association are expected to formalise a new partnership deal with Spar Zimbabwe today.

The official contract signing ceremony that will be held this afternoon in Harare, will mark a new marriage with the giant retailer.

ZINA are working towards the qualification for the 2023 Netball World Cup that will be staged in Cape Town, South Africa.

And that task involves a lot of resources.

Next month the Gems will travel to Malawi for the Confederation of Africa Netball Associations (COSANA) Cup that returns after a 12-year hiatus.

ZINA have been working around the clock engaging a number of corporate companies and partners.

And today, Spar are expected to reveal its assistance to the netball association. The Zimbabwe senior national netball team are in another bid to qualify for the Netball World Cup that will be staged in Cape Town next year.

The Gems made history when they qualified for their maiden global games in 2019 in Liverpool, England.

Zimbabwe finished eighth at the Vitality Netball World Cup and charmed all sports lovers with their performance.

During those Games, Econet Wireless Zimbabwe were their principal sponsor after they partnered with them towards the build-up of the tournament.

The giant corporate, through Econet and then Cassava Smartech subsidiary that has since been renamed EcoCash Holdings Zimbabwe Limited, injected a lump sum for the national team.

Simbisa Brands also partnered with the team during that time.

National Foods have also been an all-weather friend for the Gems, assisting them during and after the Netball World Cup as well as the Africa Cup.

However, these sponsorships were discontinued after the Gems debut Netball World Cup appearance in Liverpool.

As they seek to secure another dance with the Netball World Cup in the neighbouring country, South Africa, ZINA have stepped up their offensive corporate engagements.

The Gems have also begun preparations for the Netball World Cup qualifiers that will take place in August, in Pretoria, South Africa. The national team’s new coach, Ropafadzo Mutsauki, held his first periodical training camp in March. He had 18 players in camp and managed to assess them as well as start the process of combinations between the players and the coach, as well as between the players themselves.

Mutsauki believes early preparations will give him a good head-start.

Zimbabwe’s last competitive matches were in November last year when they took part in the Pent Series and Africa Cup in Namibia. They finished third in the Pent Series and fifth in the Africa Cup.

ZINA president, Leticia Chipandu, says they have a busy schedule ahead.

“The Zimbabwe Netball Association has a very busy schedule this year. As an association, we want to make sure that we fulfil all our assignments, regionally, internationally and otherwise. Apart from the national leagues that we have that are being played in Zimbabwe, we have got a mission on talent scouting in preparation for the World Cup qualifiers that will take place in Pretoria in August.

“So far as an association, we have planned camps for the senior national team as well as the 19 and under national teams. So far, the senior national team is getting into camp in batches. We decided that we would invite a few seasoned players and then bring in the bulk of new players for training and selection.

“So far we have already done the first batch which was in camp in March and has already gone back. Then end of May, we are going to have another batch of players, with a few seasoned players and new players that have been scouted from all over the country. Then the final camp is going to be at the end of June where we expect the last batch of seasoned players plus new other players to get into camp.

“We have asked the technical committee, this time headed by the head coach and the assistant coach, to select the best players for each batch. We are hoping that by the end of the third batch, they would have selected the best players for the national team.

“We want to leave no area untouched in Zimbabwe regarding selection of talented or eligible players. We are selecting players from all leagues, all the leagues that we have in the country, we are going to choose the best players so that they can represent the country. It is their right to represent their country, provided they are the best of players.

“Remember, at the end of the day, we are just going to select the best 12 players. So you can see that the competition for the jerseys is a very tough one, and as an association, we want to field the best, and we want to qualify for the World Cup which will be played in Cape Town 2023, just across the border.

“We cannot afford not to qualify. We have already been to the World Cup 2019 Liverpool and we came number eight. We want to consolidate our position and actually become a better placed nation,” said Chipandu.

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