A YEAR after their maiden appearance at the Netball World Cup, Gems captain, Felisitus Kwangwa, says she had high hopes for the 2020 season.
Then, just about everything came to a halt due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Competing at the world stage for the first time, the Gems captured the imagination of the world during last year’s Netball World Cup in Liverpool.
They finished in eighth place.
“Every single memory is still fresh,” Kwangwa said. “The fighting spirit that we had, as a team, how we were composed and the confidence that we had.
“It was a special feeling, having three players voted players-of-the-match in four games, giving the netball powerhouses a good run, and also finishing eighth on our first appearance.
“I wish my team would continue to do wonders, as we did in 2019, and I want us to be in the top six on the world rankings.
“I just feel that the girls still have a lot to deliver and, so, given the chance, Zimbabwe is going to be in the top-flight.”
Kwangwa was voted player-of-the-match twice at the World Cup.
The other players that got that same recognition, during the campaign, were Pauline Jani and Joice Takaidza.
“Some of the plans were for us to be winners, in any competition that Zimbabwe would find itself in,” she said.
“Remember, we are still creating our brand.
“I was hoping, or looking forward, to achieving more before the coming of the novel virus.”
Some of the competitions they were targeting were the Pent Series in Namibia and the Africa Cup.
“This lockdown has been a burden to all athletes, if I may say,” she said. “We earn a living from the game and, not playing this season, has added to our problems.
“We cannot have adequate financial support, like when things are normal.
“So, weighing between the positive and negatives, the negatives outweigh the positive ones as it is quite difficult to earn a living during this lockdown.
“It’s very hard to survive without netball.
“The game also provided a relief from our social problems as we were always having fun.
“On the positive side, I must say I have more time to focus on my education.”
The Gems captain urged her teammates to remain focused, despite the current challenges.
“As the netball fraternity, we have even lost momentum and it means we have a lot of work to do after this lockdown,” she said.
“And, I hope we will be able to gain ground fast.
“To my fellow Gems, I would want to say let’s not lose hope. Let’s continue being responsible by following the precautionary measures being prescribed by the health practitioners.
“Let’s keep doing our individual workouts, so as to keep ourselves fit because, when the virus is gone, we will still have a lot of missions to accomplish.”
The senior national team’s last competitive match was in October last year at the Africa Cup in South Africa.