National netball team leading by example

EDITORIAL COMMENT

IT is heartening that despite the all-round gloom and doom engulfing Zimbabwe’s sport fraternity, there is a silver lining in the dark clouds in the form of our netball ladies, The Gems.

And true to their name, they are exhibiting such a heart-warming sporting spirit that we cannot help, but wholeheartedly wish them all the best at the forthcoming World Cup competitions in Liverpool, England.

As they leave for the exciting tournament, we were touched with the parting words of the team’s captain, Perpetua Siyachitema, who said: “We have a lot to prove. We want to prove that we can actually do better than males. We have qualified to the World Cup and no team in Zimbabwe has done this. We want to prove to Zimbabwe that we are the best and the women can go far. We just want to go and play our hearts out, no matter the challenges and even with no allowances. We want to make history, play and brand Zimbabwe.”

That the team has been going around with a begging bowl just for them to fly to and from the tournament is more than touching. The team is going there, not for money, but for national pride. We just hope our senior men’s soccer team and other national teams take a leaf from the example The Gems have exhibited.

The national men’s football team raised the nation’s hopes sky-high when they left the country for the African Cup of Nations in Egypt, but their dismal performance and shameful conduct shattered even the dreams of those not yet born. Some supporters were so devastated that they have wished all the ills of this world to afflict the national men’s soccer team.

Only if they had lost having really played their hearts out, we are sure the people would not be this upset. But they acted like mercenaries at every turn and effectively sealed their own doom through their lack of national pride.

The Zimbabwe Football Association President, Felton Kamambo, told us from Egypt that those miserable men lost focus because of politics, and we implore our sports persons to extricate themselves from the suffocating web of politics. We also beseech our leaders not to unnecessarily extend their political tentacles into sport because this will only serve to destroy the country’s sporting spirit.

Zifa, of course, is not without blame and should, in fact, shoulder the bulk of the ill will because of its chaotic organisation and perceived corruption.

It is sad that the dark cloud of politics has not only engulfed soccer, but cricket as well, with the country now facing possible suspension from world tours simply because people appointed to preside over sports in Zimbabwe want to exert political influence where it is not called for.

We are also wary of the political influences that are already rearing their ugly heads in netball, where, we understand, 26 government officials, including four ministers, are flying to
England with The Gems. We are just curious as to what is in it for that very large entourage. This is England by the way, where most of those ministers and government officials have,
for years, been dying to visit. We just hope that they are not taking advantage of the success of our ladies for self-aggrandisement. We have a very large number of Zimbabweans residing
in the United Kingdom who can easily fill up every venue that The Gems will feature. So, that large contingent is, in our view, not necessary, especially when the country is – for goodness’ sake – cash-strapped. What austerity measures is Finance minister Mthuli Ncube talking about? In any case he also gallivants at every turn like everyone in the corridors of
power.

We wish The Gems all the best of luck, and the nation will be behind them all the way.

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