Young Gems Preps  charm Chirenda Head Coach Tapiwa Chirenda and his side after making their first appearance at the World Youth Cup in 2017 are eyeing a second dance with the global stars.

Veronica Gwaze-Sports Reporter

ZIMBABWE juniors’ netball national team Head Coach Tapiwa Chirenda is optimistic that his team will grab the top slot at the upcoming 2025 Netball World Youth Cup Qualifiers. 

The qualifying tourney is slated for Pretoria, South Africa between March 17-24 with the already in camp, intensifying their preparations. 

And the Young Gems will be hoping to grab one of the four slots to qualify for the global showcase to be held in Gibraltar’s Tercentenary Sports Hall and Europa Sports Park from September 19 to 28, next year.

If they make it, Chirenda will lead his youngsters to a second Netball World Youth Cup appearance following the first one in 2017, in Botswana under the tutelage of Ropafadzo Mutsauki. 

Chirenda selected his 30-players-provisional squad from a pool of stars from across provinces who converged for trials at Girls High School a fortnight ago. 

From the 30, the coach is expected to trim the squad down to the final 15. 

“I am very happy with how the youngsters are applying themselves on the court, even when we play friendly matches against the men’s senior teams,” said Chirenda. 

“When we sat down with other coaches and selected what we felt was the best team during the trials, so now we are assessing who we can take on to the final team . . . the talent is immense, and trimming down is no easy task. 

“We are looking at their quality and I believe they have what it takes to win us a slot for the global showcase.” 

Chirenda is ready to drive the team to achieve set goals. 

The Young Gems will be approaching the qualifiers as a regional powerhouse after bringing home gold the last time the junior teams clashed. 

Junior teams last played at the Confederation of Southern African Netball Association (COSANA) games in Malawi in 2022. 

From the tournament, the Young Gems Goal Shooter also emerged as The Goal Shooter of the Tournament. 

And most teams will be preparing to stop the Zimbabweans when they clash in South Africa. 

“The team is shaping up quite well considering we had the best the country had to offer through a very transparent selection process,” said the Coach. 

“We know that most teams are preparing to challenge us and we have to be very creative for us to win. 

“So far we have managed to start shaping a playing style unique to Zimbabwe which we hope will catch all other countries by surprise, something a bit out of the expected norm. 

“Defensively and Attacking we have moved up quite well reflecting on the friendlies we played against men’s teams yesterday.” 

What is important, he said, is for the budding players to be mentally strong. 

While most of the youngsters are active in the domestic elite league, he notes that new players should be ready to step up and do the job for the reigning COSANA champions.

“Talent was abundant from the trials, then we short-listed 30 athletes and it was not an easy task for us coaches to say these are the exact ones because they are equally good,” said Chirenda. “It is not a clear-cut case because of the outstanding talent which means that mental strength will have to come into play for one to make it. 

“Also at the qualifiers, it will be a clash of professional netballers so on top of the talent, mental resilience is what we will have to bank on as well. 

“We expect to qualify for the World Cup, that is our main drive, it is a fact that competing against African powerhouses is no easy feat but am sure we will be well-geared to make our presence felt out there. 

“Remember we also have a COSANA title to uphold, we don’t want to take comfort in the title so we are leaving no stone unturned.”

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