Gems target higher ranking

Gems ... Zimbabwe senior women’s netball team.

A BUSY schedule awaits the Zimbabwe senior women’s netball team with a tournament involving a number of African nationsin Johannesburg, South Africa early next month high on the agenda.

The tournament is set to feature South Africa, Zimbabwe, Uganda, Malawi and Zambia. Zimbabwe Netball Association president, Letitia Chipandu who was recently re-elected Confederation of Southern African Netball Associations (COSANA) president confirmed the developments.

John Banda, ZINA 's director for training was appointed Cosana director for coaches.

“We have got invitational tournaments where we hope to put better fights and improve our world ranking. In January we have the Protea Series where the top African countries have been invited to play in Johannesburg, South Africa. We are just going to rest for a little while then will need to get the girls back into camp,” Chipandu told NewsDay Sport.

The Gems are currently ranked 13th in the world and recently won a bronze medal at the Africa Championships played in Gaborone, Botswana.

Chipandu commended the ladies' effort adding that with a bit of luck, the Cup would have been theirs. However, a nine-point (45-36) loss against Namibia in their opening match of the tournament proved to be the team’s downfall.

“This was the most painful experience for the team since they had never lost to Namibia; we have always been beating them by very narrow margins. I think it was because of nerves of playing in the first match,” Chipandu told NewsDay Sport.

Zimbabwe walloped Kenya 47-28, beat hosts Botswana 56-50, edged Zambia 51-50 and wound off their preliminary round matches with a 58-48 win against Eswatini amassing eight points, tied with Zambia (+36) and Namibia (+36). However, their goal aggregate of +27 was not enough to book them a place in the final.

“They put up a great fight only that a mishap in the tournament opener cost us a place in the final,” she said.

“We also had injuries; Nicole Muzanenhamo actually had a fracture and was put in plaster. I’m happy to say that they persevered up to the end and we are going to retain the team as it is. We are going to groom it and try to play as many competitions as possible because with team sports you need exposure rather than just training on our own. The technical team has to go back to the drawing board and see how best they can improve the team so that it performs to its maximum.

 "The Gems are very grateful to our government for its unwavering support for these national assignments. We also took our men’s netball team to the Africa Championships for the first time, the boys did so well. I’m very proud of them. They worked against all odds, got to Botswana and they only lost just one game against South Africa by five scores and they got silver. When we can work together we can always find resources together to fund our teams. We are looking forward to a better, organised, sponsored, and attended games for 2024.”

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