Ellina Mhlanga Sports Reporter
THE Zimbabwe Gems are expected to finally leave for Cape Town, South Africa, today for the Africa Netball Cup that gets underway tomorrow.
National Foods availed $250 000 to assist with the trip.
The Gems participation at the event was in doubt owing to financial challenges, but National Foods, through their brand, Pearlenta Instant Porridge, saved the day.
National Foods group marketing executive Lawrence Kutinyu said they want to see the Gems story continue after they also supported the team for their World Cup campaign.
“We deal in products that appeal and are used mainly by women in the household,’’ he said.
“So, we thought there was a strong fit between what we make and what the ladies were trying to do.
“And, there is an initiative to uplift the girl child and it’s something that we also want to be a part of.
“They did us proud by coming eighth at the World Cup. But we know that they can do better and we know that their story is not finished and we want to be part and parcel of that story.’’
The Gems are also set to receive food hampers from National Foods for the next 12 months.
Zimbabwe’s opening encounter in Pool B is against Uganda tomorrow.
They will then take on Kenya on Saturday and Tanzania on Sunday.
ZINA secretary-general, Barbara Rice, hailed National Foods for their timely intervention.
“It wasn’t clear whether the team was travelling or not but finally the team is now going,’’ said Rice.
“I just want to say thank you very much to National Foods for being there for the Gems . . . for bailing us out.
“We were facing a difficult situation.’’
Team captain Felistus Kwangwa said after a good show at the Netball World Cup in Liverpool, it would have been a disappointment had they failed to fulfil their assignment in South Africa.
“On behalf of the team I would like to say to National Foods thank you so much for helping us to go and represent our nation at the African Championship.
“The only way to say thank you is by bringing good results,” said Kwangwa.
The team will be under the guidance of Ropafadzo Mutsauki, in the absence of Lloyd Makunde, who is attending a Zimbabwe Olympic Committee workshop for elite coaches.
Following the retirement of seasoned players such as Perpetua Siyachitema, shooter Pauline Jani and defender Rudo Karume after the World Cup, Mutsauki has roped in some new faces.
The trio of Joice Takaidza, Progress Moyo and Sharleen Makusha were expected to join the other players yesterday.
Felistus Kwangwa (captain), Beverly Chipadza, Queens Sigauke, Sharleen Makusha, Claris Kwaramba, Lorraine Manjoro, Patricia Mauladi, Ursula Ndlovu, Sharon Bwanali, Joice Takaidza, Progress Moyo, Tatenda Dziva, Linda Nkorongo.