Nkosilathi Sibanda, Sports Reporter
MPOPOMA High School’s sport dominance in Bulawayo will be put to test when they contest in the Stella Tanganda Under-17 national netball competition at Thornhill High in Gweru next week.
The tournament features 12 schools and will run from July 25-26. The other schools are Plumtree (Matabeleland South), Mabhikwa (Matabeleland North,) Mnene (Midlands), Parirewa (Mashonaland East), Mvurwi (Mashonaland Central), Mhangura (Mashonaland West), Mweyamutswene (Manicaland), Pamushana (Masvingo) and St Peter’s (Harare).
Spectators will also get an understanding of the game, which has for long been viewed as a minority. However, strong performances by the senior national netball team, the Gems, in the ongoing Vitality World Cup in Liverpool has generated a lot of interest in the game.
To extend their dominance to the national level, Mpopoma have to overcome defending champions Pamushana High, who have generally dominated schools’ netball and football nationally over the years.
Pamushana have dominated the Stella Tanganda netball tourney, winning it more than five times from 2012-2015 and 2018. Closest to them are Sikhulile High from Bulawayo, who were champions in 2016 and 2017.
Mpopoma are still revelling after their Under-15 girls’ football team won this year’s Copa Coca-Cola national championship.
“This time we are holding the tournament against a backdrop of an increased interest in netball in the country. People must come and cheer the children for this is where players that go on to represent Zimbabwe come from,” said Tsitsi Kumadiro, the Tanganda marketing executive.
“As Tanganda Tea Company through our brand, Stella Tea, we are committed to uplifting schools’ sports and build communities for a healthy and sustainable life. We believe that sport is a vehicle for development that is why we support schools’ netball.”
Nash president, Arthur Maphosa said: “We forever cherish the valuable support we continue to receive from Tanganda. Such mutually beneficial relationships help to nurture talent that will feed to the national teams. What the Gems are doing in Liverpool is a product of competitions such as the Stella Tanganda. We are grateful to the sponsors.”
A squad from these games will be selected to represent the country in this year’s Confederation of Schools Sport Associations of Southern Africa (Cossasa) Games.