Ellina Mhlanga Sports Reporter
WHILE the Zimbabwe senior netball team are still in a celebratory mood, after securing their place at next year’s World Cup in Liverpool, England, coach Lloyd Makunde has called for early preparations for the event. The team arrived back home from Zambia on Sunday.
Zimbabwe, who have been growing in leaps and bounds over the years, will be up against the likes of hosts England, Australia, New Zealand and Fiji, among the other top netball-playing countries.
The 2019 Netball World Cup is slated to take place from July 12 to 21 next year with 16 countries competing in the prestigious competition. “Firstly, we are all happy about this qualification but then we need to go back to the drawing board because where we are going, we are going to the elite stage where we will be competing with the best of the best.
“We lost to Uganda two days ago (on Saturday). Uganda are now almost a world-class team. So it’s high time we start preparations now,” said Makunde.
The Zimbabwe senior netball team will be making their first appearance at the world stage and vice-captain Felistas Kwangwa is hopeful their participation at the World Cup next year will open more doors for the players.
“It means a lot for us as players and I think participating at big tournaments shows that we are doing something to promote the sport and the girl child.
“As players we are expecting to market ourselves. I am hoping that two or three players will be spotted by foreign clubs.
“We are happy we qualified for the World Cup but I am worried because it will be our first time to meet the giants in netball, of which it’s a big tournament and expectations will be high.
“Unlike other teams like South Africa, Malawi and Uganda they have been to some major tournaments, so they have the experience.
“I think if we can have friendlies with some of the big teams it will help when we go for the tournament.
“The highest competition we have had so far is the African Championships of which the big team there was Malawi. South Africa did not come.
“You learn from competing with the giants and you get some experience,” said Kwangwa. For the African title, Zimbabwe were third behind Uganda and Malawi. It was a repeat of last year when they also came third in the same tournament hosted by Uganda.
The 23-year-old goal defender said although the competition was stiff in the just-ended event, it was Uganda who gave them a tough time also highlighting the importance of competing in major tournaments.