Ellina Mhlanga in Liverpool, England
Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation Deputy Minister Yeukai Simbanegavi says the Zimbabwe senior national netball team’s participation at the World Cup should bring a positive change for women in sport.
The Gems tomorrow make their maiden appearance at the global stage when they take on Sri Lanka in their first Group A match at the Vitality Netball World Cup running until July 21.
The deputy minister arrived here on Tuesday night and paid a visit to the team at their hotel where she had time to interact with the players.
“I must say that this is very exciting, first for the girls and then for sport in Zimbabwe and for Zimbabwe as a nation. This tournament is really critical and it’s also coming at a critical point where as Zimbabwe we need all the good publicity that we can have, where we need to showcase the best talents that we have in Zimbabwe as a nation.
“But it’s also very important for the girls because this is where they are able to showcase their own skills as girls, their own skills as Zimbabwean sportspersons, their own skills as girls also competing at world level.
“This is the first time that Zimbabwe has been able to come to the world platform for netball, not even for netball per se but for most of the ball games. For us as Zimbabweans, we are really excited for this World Cup,” Simbanegavi said. She said with such great milestones being made in sport, it should lead to more investment and creation of opportunities for girls and women in Zimbabwe.
“I think what I would say as a Minister of Sport, is I have realised that we also need to invest more in making sure that the girl-child has more opportunities. There is more infra
structure, there is more resources that are put in place, especially in our Ministry to have even some of the girls in the rural areas also participating in every kind of sporting discipline.
“This also gives us a bigger platform where we can be able to identify and pick our best sporting young people who can also be able to represent us at world level,” said Simbanegavi.
Simbanegavi said she is impressed with the way the players have been conducting themselves and was confident they will give their best shot during the competition.
“I must say to all Zimbabweans, I urge you to support our girls.
I urge you to stand firm with our girls and be proud of them . . . I am also confident that they are going to be giving this tournament their very best shot,” said Simbanegavi.
The Deputy Minister also shared some light moments with the team as they celebrated tall goal-shooter Pauline Jani’s 30th birthday yesterday.
The tall shooter said a win against Sri Lanka tomorrow is all she wishes as she celebrates the gift of life. “I am delighted to be celebrating my birthday in Liverpool at a time when we are focusing on our game against Sri Lanka on Friday. So I am so happy and thankful to my teammates, they woke up early just to wish me a happy birthday. So I am grateful.
“As part of the celebrations, I would really like us to win against Sri Lanka. So we are going for victory on Friday, that’s my wish,” said Jani.
r other Group A games, Zimbabwe will play Australia and Northern Ireland on Saturday and Sunday respectively.