Ellina Mhlanga Sports Reporter
ZIMBABWE’S Under-21 netball team coach Ropafadzo Mutsauki says they still have more work to do in preparation for the World Youth Cup scheduled for July in Gaborone, Botswana. The team had their first camp, which ended last Saturday at Girls High School in Harare, and are expected to re-group next month. Twenty countries are scheduled to take part in the global show-piece in Gaborone from July 8 to 16.
Zimbabwe are up against four-time champions Australia, South Africa, Barbados and Singapore in Pool B.
“The team is showing good fitness levels. It’s reflecting in the way they have been conducting themselves, they have been playing at their clubs.
“I have a few areas that I want to work on, especially defence, they are still a bit behind. We lost both the goalkeeper and goal defence we had, so I have just started working with the new players we have.
“I have two from Pamushana — Sharleen Makusha and Claris Kwaramba — as well as Sanele Ncube from Glow Petroleum. They are the ones I am working with. But the challenge is on their height.
“This means our play will change because we know the people we are playing against are tall,” said Mutsauki.
After spending more than a week with the team, Mutsauki said the time they have had together is crucial as it gives them a foundation to build on.
“We would have wanted more time. But some of them have to go back to school, so we hope to work more in our last camp and polish up.
“But this short camp has helped us a lot to identify some areas we need to focus on.
It’s different from having players just two weeks before the tournament. So this was crucial.
“We also have an advantage that this second school term is for ball games, so those in school will remain active. We will follow-up on them because we have coaches we work with in schools and we tell them the programme for the players,” said Mutsauki.
Players such as goal shooter Mercy Mkwadi, Sharon Bwanali, Patricia Mauladi, Prisca Chinyama, Nomagugu Makhalima and Sanele Ncube were part of the team that took part in the qualifiers last year.
Mkwadi, Mauladi and Ncube were also with the senior team in Hong Kong, in March for a tri-nations tournament while Bwanali was a member of the African Union Sports Council Region Five Under-20 Youth Games team in Angola, last December.
The Under-21 side are making their maiden appearance at the World Youth Cup.
Team manager, Petronilla Gonye, said they are expecting to re-group for a month in June.
“We should be back early June because we need about a month now to prepare for the games. We are supposed to be in Botswana by the 4th of July,” Gonye said.
Pool A consists of reigning champions New Zealand, Sri Lanka, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Samoa.
Jamaica, Botswana, Cook Islands, Malaysia and Uganda makes up Pool C while Pool D is made up of England, Fiji, Trinidad and Tobago, Wales and Grenada.
Mercy Mkwadi, Sharon Bwanali, Chido Chiwenga, Selma Danihaji, Gladys Chavapo (Harare City Queens), Patricia Mauladi, Sanele Ncube, Lynette Tanhira (all Glow Petroleum Queens), Shalom Ncube, Nomagugu Makhalima, Michelle Muzanenhamo, Vimbai Chirinda (Platinum Queens), Prudence Sibanda (All Stars), Prisca Chinyama (ZDF Queens), Sharleen Makusha, Sarudzai Busu, Claris Kwaramba (all Pamushana).