NATIONAL senior women netball team will use the invitational Hong Kong tournament to prepare for the African Netball Championships coming up later in the year, as well as improve their position on the world rankings.
BY HENRY MHARA
The Ledwin Dondo-coached team were expected to leave Harare this morning and arrive in Hong Kong tomorrow for the tournament at which they will play the hosts and Malaysia.
Zimbabwe will play Malaysia in their opening match on Thursday, before taking on Hong Kong the following day.
They will also play an exhibition match against Hong Kong Invitational on Saturday. All the matches will be played at the Kowloon Park Sports Centre in Hong Kong.
Speaking at the team’s send-off ceremony yesterday, Zimbabwe Netball Association president Leticia Chipandu said they are using the tournament to prepare for upcoming international tournaments, including the Africa Championships where Zimbabwe are the current champions.
“They are going to use it as a platform to prepare for the Africa Championships where Zimbabwe is going to defend its gold medal. It’s a preparatory tournament for us. This is also a world ranking tournament and it’s a good chance for the team to improve their rankings. It is also the greatest exposure that our national team has gotten apart from having played in the region and the continent. This is the first international exposure they are getting,” Chipandu said. Zimbabwe is currently ranked 17th in the world, and sixth in Africa. They are the best ranked team at the tri-nations and favourites to win the tournament.
“We have prepared since last year when the players were selected and they have been playing regularly in their teams in the league. We have been in camp for three weeks now, preparing for this particular tournament. We are ready to compete and I am very sure we are going to get positive results. We are very grateful to a well-wisher who sponsored our trip,” she added.
Three players, Patricia Mauladzi, Mercy Mukwadi and Sanele Ncube, who are with the Zimbabwe junior team are also part of the team.
“We have players in the team who are still playing in the Under-21 team which has qualified for the World Cup coming in July, so this again is an opportunity for those players to gain experience and impart it to their fellow players.
Zimbabwe are in Group B at the Netball World Youth Cup to be played in Botswana this July with giants Australia, South Africa, Barbados and Singapore