Platinum Queens walk away with pre-season title for the fifth time THE UNTOUCHABLES . . . Platinum Queens celebrate after winning the Premier Netball League pre-season tournament at the Chitungwiza Aquatic Complex last weekend. – Photo: Platinum Queens Media

A GOOD ending is better than a good start, but a combination of both is perfect.

Finishing off the Zimbabwe Premier Netball League (PNL) in 2022 as champions, the Platinum Queens have carried with them the winning formula into 2023 by claiming the pre-season tournament for the third time in a row under PNL.

They have also won the pre-season tournament two times in the Rainbow Amateur Netball League (RANL).

They won the inaugural Zimbabwe PNL pre-season tournament for the first time in Bulawayo at White City Stadium in 2021, then again in 2022 before clinching it again this year.

What makes the Queens in green special is their humility despite their apparent grandeur. Coach Stembile Banda explained: “The ladies are so humble despite being Champions, they have serious dedication, and focus. When we set objectives, the girls work very hard to see that they achieve them.”

Throughout the pre-season, the team worked very hard on improving mental and physical fitness as well as combinations. All this paid off at the tournament.  At the end of the 2022 season the team parted ways with three players, Tanaka Makusha, Lynette Tanhira and Hamunyari Govere who now ply their trade elsewhere.

The Club welcomed four new players –  Esimelda Sibanda aged 16 (C & WA), Nyaradzai Muzvondiwa aged 16 (WD, GK & GD), Sharon Mugwara aged 16 (GA & GS), and Selina Kuriremu aged 20 (WA & C). Three of them are from the Zvishavane local community.

Commenting on the new recruits coach Mlambo said: “The new recruits are coming up. They are young, versatile, they are learning the ropes and we have tried to make sure that they feel at home learning from their experienced counterparts. They are doing well but are yet to play.”  The changes meant a few adjustments to the squad which do not alter the strategic plan of the team. Commenting on the adjustments coach Banda indicated that “we have players who are versatile and can fit more than one position and they are working to bridge the gap in this transition”.

The departure of the three seasoned players posed a test for Head Coach Simbarashe Mlambo to maintain dominance and many of his critics placed him under the microscope during this year’s pre-season tournament.

He managed to prevail showing that indeed he is playing his cards right for all to see as testified by his works.

Platinum Queens played Blue Angels, Harare City and City Angels before going on to dismiss Beitbridge Stars 28-2 in the quarter-finals.  In the semi-finals the Platinum Queens won 19-13 in arguably their toughest match of the tournament against ZDF Queens.

“The game against ZDF was outstanding, it was a very physical game. ZDF have experienced players, they gave us a good run for our money,” explained coach Banda.

In the final, the Queens faced Green Fuel, dismissing them 25-17 to be crowned the Zimbabwe PNL Champions 2023.

“It was a great feeling to win the pre-season tournament. We believe in each other, and we always trust in God for positive results,” revealed the captain Nomagugu Makhalima.

Both coaches Banda and Mlambo indicated that the club and sponsor FC Platinum Holdings are doing very well in creating a conducive environment for the game to progress and the girls have been instrumental in helping win this tournament five times and counting.

“This coming season we want to change our game. We want to see a bit of diversity here and there, fast running, clean and beautiful netball that you are going to enjoy.

After all, it is about enjoying the game and meeting the standard. My hope is to see one of the girls join bigger leagues in Europe,” shared coach Mlambo in closing. – Platinum Queens Media

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