The Zimbabwe senior netball team received a major boost after striking a US$50 000 sponsorship deal with Nedbank Zimbabwe ahead if their participation at the World Cup in South Africa this year.
The financial services group made the timely intervention as the Gems are stepping up preparations for their second successive appearance at the global showpiece.
They recently concluded their first one-month-long training camp and are set to regroup again in the first week of May.
The sponsorship deal will cater for the kit, travel insurance among other World Cup expenses.
The country's elite league, the Premier Netball League (PNL) which is the major feed to the national team also received a similar amount from the bank yesterday which will cater for the kit and all league expenses throughout the season.
The World Cup will take place in Cape Town, South Africa from July 28 to August 6 — the first time the global meet will take place on African soil.
Speaking at the signing ceremony, Zimbabwe Netball Association (Zina) president Letitia Chipandu thanked Nedbank for the shot in the arm which she said will help the team achieve its ambitions.
“We are very excited and it is something we have been yearning for, for a very long time. We want to thank Nedbank for coming on board and sponsoring the Gems as well as our professional league (PNL). It is a major boost because it will cover what we think is crucial while we wait for other sponsors, the government and any other well-wishers,” said Chipandu.
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“It gives me joy to see big corporates beginning to see the value of investing significantly in female-dominated sports. I would like to encourage many other corporates to take up the sponsorship opportunities in netball with the same vigour and enthusiasm that has been demonstrated by Nedbank. As more corporates join in through sponsorships and rallying support for the girls, nothing will stop us from meeting the set targets.”
Nedbank Zimbabwe head of marketing (client experience and corporate affairs) Hope Marere, said the bank will stand with the team as they prepare for the tournament.
“As part of our corporate social investment thrust, we have been intentional about contributing towards sport in our country. This partnership with Zina affirms our belief in the support of sports and communities that surround them," said Marere.
“We have been closely following the netball journey and we are proud to see that our Gems are ranked 13th in the world. The Gems have come a long way and continue to grow from strength to strength and we are proud to walk the journey with them to the World Cup in July.”
In a speech read on his behalf, Sport, Arts and Recreation deputy minister Tino Machakaire thanked Nedbank for coming on board and called for other companies to be part of the Gems' road to Cape Town.
“The sport of netball has been making significant strides since the 2019 World Cup. Since then, the growth of the sport has been exponential. As a ministry, we encourage meaningful partnerships that contribute to the development of the country. It is through such partnerships that we begin to appreciate that sport development is part and parcel of economic development,” he said.