Min­is­ter hails U-21 net­ball team

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Sport - Sikhum­buzo Moyo @skhu­moyo2000

THE World Cup bound Zim­babwe Un­der-21 na­tional net­ball team re­turned home yes­ter­day.

The girls put all their pre-tour­na­ment trou­bles be­hind them to book a place in the World Cup fi­nals that will be held in Gaborone, Botswana, in July 2017.

Sport and Re­cre­ation Min­is­ter Makhosini Hlong­wane said their feat was un­ri­valled.

“What you girls did in Botswana is sim­ply un­prece­dented and un­ri­valled. We feel so proud of you, es­pe­cially with the way your prepa­ra­tions went. Your depth of com­mit­ment is sim­ply un­be­liev­able,” said Hlong­wane when he met the girls at the Khu­malo Hockey Sta­dium in Bu­l­awayo yes­ter­day.

He said it was in­cred­i­ble that the girls, who won gold in the African Union Sports Coun­cil Re­gion Five Un­der-20 Youth Games in 2014, had once again put the coun­try on the map with their gutsy per­for­mance.

“You’re re­pro­duc­ing new knowl­edge of how to win, how to pro­duce re­sults un­der what­ever cir­cum­stance. We have as­so­ci­a­tions that are fully and well funded ei­ther by us as Gov­ern­ment or by cor­po­rate, but still pro­duce no re­sults and yet here you are as net­ball, with lit­tle re­sources, you’ve man­aged to get us to the World Cup,” said Hlong­wane.

He said his min­istry had never re­ceived any re­quest for fi­nan­cial as­sis­tance from the Zim­babwe Net­ball As­so­ci­a­tion (Zina).

Zina pres­i­dent Let­ti­cia Chipandu called on the Gov­ern­ment to pro­vide a plat­form for the girls to pre­pare ad­e­quately ahead of the World Cup fi­nals.

“These girls must con­tinue play­ing the game un­til the fi­nals and we feel the Gov­ern­ment must come to our as­sis­tance to en­sure we ful­fil that am­bi­tion. A ma­jor­ity of the play­ers here will also be part of the team that will par­tic­i­pate at the AUSC Games in An­gola,” said Chipandu.

Team cap­tain Felis­tas Kwangwa will, how­ever, not be part of the World Cup squad as she will be over the 21-year age limit.

“I’m re­ally hurt that I shall not be there in the fi­nals in per­son, but I will be with the girls all the way,” she said.

Zim­babwe came sec­ond be­hind South Africa with 12 points.

Fi­nal stand­ings Team cap­tain Felis­tas Kwangwa

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