Hockey team braces for Olympic qualifiers



Zimbabwe’s hockey team will be looking to book a ticket to the Summer 2020 Tokyo Olympics when it travels to the Africa Cup Championships, the qualifying tournament scheduled for Potchefstroom, South Africa in August.

Hockey Association of Zimbabwe secretary-general Sarah Bennett told NewsDay Sport that preparations for the qualifiers were underway.

“Preparations for the tournament are underway. We have selected the open squad that has been participating in various tournaments in preparation for the qualifiers and we are going there with full force. The team is ready to make the nation proud.

“For us, partaking in this tournament will enable our players to get the much-needed world ranking points and we are trying to equip our players with the rightful tools. The team has been practising and took part in the Hockey series open in December last year, in which Zimbabwe played hosts,” she said.

Bennet said they were on a rebuilding drive to recruit more youngsters that will be representing the country at the highest stages in future.

“We are on a rebuilding course, with our main focus on the youths. We are happy that our ladies youth team has qualified for the Youth Olympic Games in Argentina, and this shows that we are on the right track because the same youths teams will make our Under-21 World Cup team for the qualifiers next year. We know that if we are serious about getting hockey back on the map, we have to start at grassroots, and that’s what we are doing at the moment.”

To do that, the association is making frantic efforts to develop the sport through various initiatives such as introducing the sport in schools around the country.

However, like any other sporting disciplines, Bennet bemoaned lack of resources saying it was the major hindrance to their drive. She added that her association intends to put up hockey facilities in all provinces.

Zimbabwe was first represented at the Olympics when the senior ladies team took part at the 1980 Moscow Olympics where they won a gold medal.

This remains one of the pinnacles of sporting achievements for the country that future hockey squads could use as a source of inspiration.