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Zimbabwe: Gems Camp Delayed

Ellina Mhlanga — The Gems camp that was scheduled to begin yesterday has been delayed as the Zimbabwe Netball Association indicated that they are finalising some logistics.

The senior national team was expected to regroup yesterday at Girls High School to resume preparations for the 2023 Netball World Cup due to run from July 28 to August 6 in Cape Town, South Africa.

But yesterday ZINA president, Letitia Chipandu, said they are still finalising some logistics for the team to go into camp.

“We have a few logistics to take care of. I think let’s give it five days or three days because it’s a big team of 30, so we gave the technical department to group their players the way they want because they can’t come into camp at once.

“So when that has been done, because I think they want to split (the 30 players) and blend, and then the process begins because as they go on they will be screening until we are left with the final 15.

“So I think they need time to really properly plan how they will bring them into camp while we do other logistics. We don’t want the players to feel as if those that are going to come into camp first is the (final) team,” said Chipandu.

It’s about five months before the global showpiece roars into life with 16 countries taking part.

“Time is still there because this first camp is going to go for 33 days. So after those 33 days they will have the top 20. And then after that, we are envisaging going for a friendly, then after the friendly, by April they should be having 17 or so players and then finally have the final team.

“So it’s not something that we can just rush into and we can’t say we have got all the time in the world, there is never enough time for anything. But I think the period we have is not bad because it’s not like we are starting from scratch.

“The players are there and they are training. They are training with their different clubs. There are competitions going on, so they are not inactive. So I am very confident it will work out,” said Chipandu.

The Premier Netball League recently held a pre-season tournament and their league games are expected to begin on March 11 while the Rainbow Netball League is already underway.

Zimbabwe are one of the four African countries that qualified for the netball jamboree. The other countries are Malawi, South Africa and Uganda.

The Gems will be making their second successive appearance at the global showpiece after securing their place at the tournament last August during the qualifiers held in South Africa.

After their qualification they competed at the Spar Diamond Challenge in November where they played Scotland, South Africa’s senior team and the President’s XII.

So far it is the only competition they have had towards getting ready for the Netball World Cup.

Gems coach, Ropafadzo Mutsauki, said based on the performance at that tournament, they still need to work on the whole team.

“We still have to work on the whole team, taking into consideration the performance at the Diamond Challenge.

“Yes, they played well but it was not up to what we expected and it looked like the co-ordination was lacking.

“So we need to work on the combinations when we go into this camp.

“And if we can get one or two friendlies before we bring in foreign-based players or when they come, it will help us assess the team,” said Mutsauki.

At this year’s Netball World Cup, Zimbabwe were drawn in Pool A together with former champions Australia, Tonga and Fiji.

Pool B is made up of England, Malawi, Scotland and Barbados while Pool C consists of Jamaica, South Africa, Wales and Sri Lanka.

Defending champions New Zealand, Uganda, Trinidad and Tobago, and Singapore will battle it out in Pool D, in the group stages.

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