IT’S down to business for the national Under-21 hockey coaches as they are set to get their group training plans in motion after the Hockey Association of Zimbabwe got clearance from the Government.
Hockey activities have been on hold due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the latest development comes as a relief for the national squads which have important assignments early next year.
The Under-21 men and women sides have the World Cup qualifiers next March and the senior men and women are set for the Central-South Africa tournament in February.
The squads were announced in September and they have had to rely on online training programmes.
But, with the clearance being granted this week, it means they can now begin group trainings.
The Under-21 men’s coach, Fidelis Majuba, welcomed the development and said they already have a plan for their next step.
“We had already made thorough arrangements in anticipation of this clearance because we had already been told last week that our application was actually in the hands of the Sports Commission and they were considering it.
“What it means is that we now need to draw up a training calendar for the next three months urgently.
“Currently, in the Under-21 men’s side, we have got a squad of 30 players, it needs to be trimmed down,” said Majuba.
The players are expected to have fitness tests on November 21.
Majuba is hoping to follow up on this with a couple of training camps early next month before they take a short break until after the first week of January.
The camps are expected in two formats, with some being regional where they will have some training sessions in Chiredzi, while others will be in Harare and Bulawayo. However, the cost factor will also come into play in determining the programme. His counterpart, in charge of the women’s side, Tendayi Maredza, believes it’s a major step to help boost their preparations.
“It’s a major step, in terms of our preparations, for all the national squads, for the local tournament and the Under-21s World Cup qualifiers next year.
“Obviously, now we need to get the players back on the astro turf, work on our shape, structure, team tactics, polish up on some of the basics and get them up to speed.
“And, we need to prepare them for the actual tournament, which is four (to) five months away.
“Hopefully, we can get some financial support to cover our costs and the cost of the astro turf. “It’s a bit pricey, so we will need financial support to be able to get a lot of hours on the astro turf,” Maredza said.
The national association have also engaged Arundel School and St John’s College for the use of their facilities.
They have been using the facilities over the years but the current situation, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, have seen the closure of some schools’ facilities.
“We are still to hear from Arundel School and St John’s College if their astro turf is now open for use.
“We value and appreciate their support and we look forward to using their wonderful facilities.
“Once we get clarification, we will use their facilities for the squads to train and will also make use of Khumalo Hockey Stadium in Bulawayo,” Bennett said.