GEMS coach, Lloyd Makunde, believes Felisitus Kwangwa’s break, into the Vitality Netball Superleague, is a big breakthrough for Zimbabwe netball.
Kwangwa joined Surrey Storm last week for the 2021 season.
She was unveiled by the English club, completing their 15-member squad, for the upcoming season.
The Gems captain, and goal defender, was one of the outstanding players at last year’s Vitality Netball World Cup in Liverpool.
“It’s a good move for Felisitus to go to England. It’s so important for Zimbabwe, at large, and for netball fraternity,” said Makunde.
“Since we are now on the 12th position, the Vitality Superleague can sign players from Zimbabwe.
“Now, that she is there I could see a trend of Zimbabwean players going to play in England and even in the Australian league, which is arguably the best.
“We expect many players to go.”
Some of the players Makunde feels stand a good chance are goal attack Sharon Bwanali, who plays for ZDF Queens, as well as the pair of Sharleen Tanaka Makusha and Claris Kwaramba of Platinum Queens.
They were all part of the Gems team at the World Cup.
“The signing of Felisitus is an icebreaker which I think came, due to our performance at the World Cup, there were scouts, obviously, from almost all the top-playing netball nations.
“We have got the likes of Sharon, Tanaka and Claris, I think there are people that saw them and are interested, so, the signing of Felisitus is just what we wanted, the icebreaker.
“I have seen Felisitus play, even before I started coaching her, as a person she is a down-to-earth young woman, very disciplined and she is one of the quiet ones, she not very vocal.
“As a player, we all know how good she is.
“She is one of the pillars of our national team. I definitely know when this term ends, which she has just signed, she will definitely make the grade.
“I foresee her playing more seasons in England and she might even go to Australia, so we are going to miss her in our local leagues here,” Makunde said.
While he believes doors will open for local players, Makunde underscored the importance of continuing to push for better world rankings.
He wants to see Zimbabwe ranked in the top 10.
“For players to get the exposure, we need to play more test series matches,” he said.
“We need to play more of those, especially against opponents ranked above us and, then, if only we do that, it’s when the players will get recognised and get signed by foreign teams.
“We just wait for the Africa Cup and the World Cup qualifiers and then the Pent Series, those are the only tournaments, which we play.
“But, with funds permitting, if we could play those test series we will be home and dry.
“I would like to see us in the top 10, and then keep going up the ladder, and it will attract many teams to sign our players here,” Makunde said.
Kwangwa’s father Simeon is delighted by her daughter’s achievement.
“It has been a long struggle. Initially, we didn’t think it will get to this level but, with the encouragement I kept giving her, she is here.
“I just want to urge other parents that we should not just push for academics only, sport also can change one’s life.
“I am very happy and I wish her the best and wish that she represents the country well, also raising the Kwangwa name, because she is my first daughter,” said Simeon.