Tadious Manyepo Sports Reporter
THE Zimbabwe Netball Association acting technical director (umpiring) Alex Masimba says more needs to be done if umpires from this country are to be selected to officiate at prestigious tournaments. All of them failed to make the grade for the Africa Netball Championships/World Cup qualifiers scheduled for Zambia next week.
The International Netball Federation recently appointed a team of officials to umpire at the prestigious event with Gibraltar’s Nadine Zammitt leading the list.
In fact, no Zimbabwean umpire has ever made the cast for either the African Championships or the World Cup qualifiers.
The country’s top umpire, Agnes Chiroodza, didn’t impress the INF when she was given the platform to showcase her match-handling skills during the International Pent Series in Namibia last year.
And Masimba reckons the association need to invest into that area if Zimbabwean umpires are to be called to officiate at big tournaments.
“I can confirm that no Zimbabwean umpire will be part and parcel of the African Netball Championships/World Cup qualifiers to be held in Zambia from 13 to 18 August,” said Masimba.
“We are a bit worried but what is more important at this juncture is for us to look at ourselves and say we need to upgrade (our umpires).
“The International Netball Federation are the appointing authority and they look at several factors to determine who to pick.
“Our umpires need to undergo some tactical courses which will enable them to be ready for the assessment which they are supposed to undergo before they are appointed to handle games at high-pressure major tournaments.
“We need to attain a certain level of competency, it’s a process, we should work very hard to ensure the umpires are practically and theoretically up to the standards which the INF considers,” Masimba said.
The national netball team are finalising their preparations for the tournament in Lusaka, Zambia, next week.
Seventeen players are in camp and the squad will be trimmed to 12 tomorrow as the Gems seek to grab their maiden berth at the World Cup, which will be held in Liverpool, England, next year.
Namibia, Kenya, Botswana, Uganda, Malawi, Zimbabwe and the hosts will battle it out for African glory.
The top two teams are set to join Malawi and South Africa among the four to represent the continent in England.
Malawi and South Africa have already qualified automatically for the quadrennial competition by virtue of being ranked among the top six countries in the world.
Assistant coach Ropafadzo Mutsauki is hopeful Zimbabwe will make it to the World Cup.
Goal shooter Sharon Bwanali and goal defender Felisitus Kwangwa, who landed the MVP gong at the Pent Series in Namibia last year, are expected to shrug off minor knocks before the final squad is named tomorrow.