The Zimbabwe senior women’s netball team, the Gems, has held its training, light workout session to loosen up at the match venue, the M & S Bank Arena in Liverpool England, with head coach Lloyd Makunde saying the ladies are ready for the World Cup.
Speaking to journalists after the workout, Makunde said although they did not use the main court, all players have a clean bill of health except pint-size centre Ursula Ndlovu who has a swollen ankle but trained with the team.
Zimbabwe play Sri Lanka in their opening match on Friday, the defending champions Australia on Saturday and Ireland on Sunday in a final Group ‘A’ match.
In the afternoon, the girls attended a welcome reception organised by the diaspora community attended by Zimbabwe Ambassador to UK, Retired Colonel Christian Katsande who travelled all the way from London for the event.
Ambassador Katsande said the girls ranked 4th on the African continent and 13th in the world had brought much joy to Zimbabwe and the county’s visibility exalted by their presence and appearance at the netball’s biggest stage, the World Cup.
He said the trailblazing netball Gems were great ambassadors for the country, its image and brand by keeping sport at its highest levels thereby creating role models for young girls to emulate.
He implored them to keep the focus, have positive attitude, give their best and win their first game against Sri Lanka.
Zimbabwe Netball Association (ZINA) president Leticia Chipandu said the journey had not been easy starting with the regional Association of National Olympic Committees of Africa (ANOCA) games in 2014 in Botswana when they nurtured the girls to the time they now realising their dream.
Football gets all the attention said Chipandu but girls deserve some recognition and will definitely perform better than the Warriors did at this year’s AFCON in Egypt.
She paid tribute to the team for showing resilience and daring to dream and shock the world with some good results by drawing inspiration from the cultural heritage city of Liverpool and its famous football club, by the same name Liverpool.
Chipandu said the girls had managed to balance family and academic life with youngest team member Claris Kwaramba managing 20 points at a level at Pamushana High School, proving there’s life in netball apart from playing sport.
The ZINA boss applauded the Sports and Recreation Commission, government, the First Lady Amai Auxillia Mnangagwa and diaspora community for supporting the girls in their quest to play at the World Cup, a life changing opportunity for the girls.