ONE-AND-A-HALF months before Zimbabwe plunge into their maiden Netball World Cup battle in Liverpool, England, it now does not need chameleonic caution that every son and daughter of this sport-loving nation should have highly considered supporting the Gems.
The Netball World Cup will run from 12-21 July at the Echo Arena and Zimbabwe will be competing alongside Uganda, Australia, New Zealand,Jamaica, South Africa, Malawi, Scotland, Northern Ireland, Samoa, Fiji and hosts England.
Despite being a popular sport at school level we wonder why funds have been hard to come by for the team, and as a result, the team has been in camp at a primary school in Harare. Just imagine, for a global sporting festival!
While we greatly appreciate that the friendly match against the world’s seventh-ranked side, Uganda, this weekend is crucial for them in assessing the ground work they have covered so far, Gems skipper Perpetual Siyachitema, through a video that has gone viral, recently expressed dissatisfaction with the kind of support or lack of it that the national team is receiving.
“I am not happy with the support that we are getting because my girls and I worked very hard to get where we are today, but we are really not getting the support that should be given to us. I don’t know why; maybe because we are ladies, I don’t know. I need you guys out there to just come and support us, please.
“The food that we are having is not good enough for sportspersons because we need proper fruits, juices and things like that, but unfortunately we can’t afford to have such things. If we can have enough funds so that we have good and proper facilities for training, have same types of training kits I think it will help us. It will really motivate us greatly,” she said.
It should be remembered that the World Cup and the Olympic Games are the highest stage any team or sportsperson strives to reach and a team that qualifies for such a competition surely deserves to be rewarded with Government funding and massive corporate support as it happens in other countries.
Sadly, the Gems have been neglected. Abandoned in the same way the women’s soccer team, the Mighty Warriors, was abandoned before the 2016 Olympic Games in Brazil.
Interestingly, the Zimbabwe national senior soccer team — the Warriors — are the only ones who have, at least, benefited something from Government and the corporate world.
The Warriors received lots of Government and corporate backing for their 2017 Africa Cup of Nations dance and in their road to the 2019 Afcon finals they continued to be pampered and protected.
If Government and other stakeholders could afford to support the Warriors, then we are tempted to ask; what sin did the girl child commit?
Zimbabwe’s sport minister Kirsty Coventry has however, dismissed allegations that Government had abandoned the netball national team.
“Since meeting the Zimbabwe team in November (last year), they made strides on and off the court. I committed my help to their World Cup last year and this hasn’t changed,” Coventry said on her Twitter account.
Coventry added that Government was committed to giving the side the best ahead of their World Cup debut.
We hope and pray that there shall be tangible support coming the Gems’ way soon as the different parties fulfill their pledges. We cannot afford to fail our ladies.t