Ellina Mhlanga Sports Reporter
FOR the netball family, the year 2018 will remain etched in their hearts as it marked another milestone with the qualification of the senior team for the World Cup for the first time.
Zimbabwe will join 15 other countries for the event to be staged in Liverpool, England, from July 12 to 21 with 16 countries gracing the world competition.
However, as much as netball continues to set the bar high, there were also challenges along the way, in particular the formation of Rainbow Amateur Netball League (RANL), which left the netball fraternity divided.
RANL were seeking to affiliate to the Zimbabwe Netball Association (ZINA) so that they run their own league separately from the Super League run by the national association.
But the two parties failed to reach an agreement on the way forward as ZINA questioned the motive behind the formation of the new structure since they already have the Super League running.
At some point the Sports Commission met with both parties and advised the local netball motherbody to amend their constitution and allow for registration of other leagues to be run by separate league management committees that will be accountable to the motherbody.
They also advised the Rainbow Amateur Netball League to apply for registration with ZINA in line with the established ZINA procedures and to copy the Sports Commission.
But up to now, the two parties are still to find common ground although RANL continued with their programme.
Speaking to The Herald this week, ZINA president, Leticia Chipandu, said the formation of the new league affected the quality of play with some of the Super League clubs joining the new league.
Chipandu, however, said they are going to address the issue before the start of the 2019 season.
“One challenge is about Rainbow (League), I don’t want to beat about the bush. It divided the league, it affected the quality of play. Before the season begins that problem is going to be sorted out. A way forward has to be agreed on, we need sanity in netball not rivalry.
“There is no need for rivalry because if we are genuinely serving the same people, with the same goal and I don’t see why we should be parallel in our approach to delivering whatever services we want to deliver.
“And I just want to say there are rules and regulations, we need to operate within the parameters of the Sports Act,” said Chipandu.
Although ZINA and RANL could not agree on the way forward, the players under the latter have continued to be considered for national duty with captain Perpetua Siyachitema from Glow Petroleum Queens leading the team to a successful campaign during the World Cup qualifiers in Zambia.
By the end of their programme RANL, which is sponsored by Pickglow Trading, had 11 teams competing under their league including Correctional Queens, who were the 2017 Super League champions.
They also emerged winners of the RANL in the just-ended season.
RANL secretary-general, Moses Gukurume, said they have always wanted to engage the motherbody.
“We are willing to sit down with them. We have always wanted to be a baby of ZINA as the regulatory body. We believe if ZINA controls more leagues there will be more competition, improving the quality because you tap into a bigger pool instead of just the Super League.
“Players from the league (RANL) were considered in the national team. I think there are five players,” said Gukurume.
Gukurume said they will continue with the league next year and they have also established Division One teams.
“Going forward we will keep playing. The constitution in Zimbabwe allows freedom of association.
“Now that the season has ended we have teams playing national regional Division One leagues under Rainbow. We superintend over 120 teams — 11 in the national league and 110 from regions — Southern Region, Central Region, Matabeleland North, Northern Region A and Northern Region B and Eastern Region.
“So we have six teams that are champions from those regions we intend to promote into the national league,” Gukurume said.
The RANL secretary-general pointed out that they would want to reach out to as many players as they can across the country and he believes with their sponsorship for 2019 increased from $250 000 to $500 000, they are in a good position to meet their targets.