Minister hails U-21 netball team
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