THE Zimbabwe senior netball team and their male counterparts, the Golden Gems, are in Gaborone, Botswana, for the Africa Netball Championships that begins this morning
After an indifferent campaign at the Vitality Netball World Cup hosted by South Africa recently, where the Gems finished a distant 13th place, the girls are eager to make for that disappointment by getting a podium finish.
“We will take each game as we go and try not to put pressure on ourselves. We have tried to work on our fitness levels and boosting confidence in our girls, one of the challenges that we faced at the World Cup campaign in the past few months,” Gems coach Ropafadzo Mutsauki told NewsDay Sport.
The Gems are currently ranked fourth in the continent and 13th globally.
This year’s edition will see South Africa missing out as they will be participating in a three-test series in England.
Malawi were on the verge of missing out due to financial constraints, but managed to pull through at the last hurdle.
Mutsauki added that the Nedbank Zimbabwe-sponsored Gems are raring to go and determined to bring positive results.
“We arrived safely in Botswana and the girls are quite excited. If we manage to start our games and maintain this morale, I think that will work on our advantage as we are looking forward producing good results,” he said.
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“We have been working for about a month with the girls, trying out a number of combinations and also focusing on their fitness levels so that we can maintain consistency through out the tournament.
“I believe with the effort we have put in our preparations, this can help us to come up with something and also give us an opportunity to continue building our national team for upcoming tournaments. Such tournaments are important and are a platform for us to assess where we can improve as a team.”
The women’s teams set to participate in this year’s tournament include Ghana, Kenya, Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Burundi, Namibia, Malawi and hosts Botswana.
On the other hand, the Golden Gems will be making their maiden appearance in this inaugural men’s Africa Netball Cup. At least six men’s teams have confirmed their participation and these are Uganda, Kenya, Zambia, Botswana, Zimbabwe and South Africa.