THE Zimbabwe women netball team will leave the country today ahead of the upcoming Africa Netball Championships scheduled for November 28 to December 6 in Gaborone, Botswana.
Having been in camp for almost a month in preparation for this regional tourney, the Gems comprises most players who played at the World Cup.
A total of ten women's teams are up for the competition — Ghana, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Burundi, Namibia, Malawi and the hosts Botswana — whilst the six men's teams — Uganda, Kenya, Zambia, Botswana, Zimbabwe and South Africa — are also part of this year's edition.
This event takes place after every two years and for the first time in history, the tournament will see both male and female teams participating.
Speaking at a news conference yesterday, the team captain Felistus Kwangwa remained confident that they stood a chance to bring gold home and thanked their platinum sponsor Nedbank and all corporates that made the trip a success.
"I want to thank Nedbank for rallying behind us. I know it's really tough, but you are trying your best and as a team we have also been really working hard. We know we went to the World Cup, which was an achievement of course, but we didn't really get what we wanted to achieve. This time around however, we are going to do our best and bring back the gold medal, which we did almost 10 years back in 2015," said Kwangwa.
"The good thing is that we have got a lot of young ladies in the team as well, so it's not about the Africa Cup but we are looking into the 2027 World Cup as well. I would want to thank everyone again who has made it possible because we couldn't be here without your support. I just want to encourage my teammates to go and shine and show case their skills at this tournament," Kwangwa added.
Zimbabwe Netball Association (ZINA) president Letitia Chipandu rallied behind the girls as well highlighting that netball has proved to be a growing sport in the country.
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"This will be the Gems' first competition since the 2023 Netball World Cup in Cape Town, where they maintained their 13th place in the international rankings. Given that we are ranked fourth on the continent, we can confidently state that we will be among the strongest competitors in this competition. Our girls have really worked hard to prepare for a podium finish," said Chipandu.
Nedbank Zimbabwe has been the platinum sponsor for the Gems since April this year for their World Cup participations and also for the Premier Netball League (PNL) which is one of the leagues in the country that directly feeds the senior netball team.