Allen Khumalo, Sports Reporter
PREPARATIONS for the 2017 Under-21 Netball World Youth Cup to be held in Botswana from July 8-16 have stepped up a gear with national team players being attached to various institutions around the country.
Zimbabwe Netball Association (Zina) president Leticia Chipandu said players from Masvingo province have been deployed to Pamushana High School, while some joined Bulawayo and Harare clubs.
“Preparations for the competition have already begun and we have attached some of our players to various clubs around the country. They are under the watchful eyes of highly qualified coaches. From what I hear, they are really doing great in the respective places and I’m sure by the time we call 18 players to camp in April, it won’t be easy selecting the final 12,” Chipandu said.
Zimbabwe, ranked 17 on the International Netball Federation (INF) world rankings, will be making its first appearance in the Netball World Cup.
It has been grouped in Pool B with world number one Australia, South Africa (fifth), Barbados (12) and Singapore (20).
Chipandu said the squad wants to leave a lasting impression in its maiden appearance.
“I know some countries like Australia and Singapore have already named their teams for the competition, but we are not going to rush into doing that. We want to take our time to select the best players possible so that we leave a mark in this historic moment. We want to go there and win not just to make numbers. That is why we will call our camp in April when schools are closed so that we include some of our players that are still at school,” said Chipandu.
“Countries like Australia have academies so they are always a step ahead of us. The fact that we are in the same group does not bother us because qualifying for the competition means we are also capable of doing great. We have players that can deliver good results so the aim is to focus and do our best.”
Following regional qualifiers that were held in August 2016, Zimbabwe will be representing the continent together with South Africa and Uganda against 17 other nations from around the world.