The Herald (Zimbabwe)

Platinum Queens defy adversity

- Veronica Gwaze Sports Reporter

AT some point along the way they were emotionall­y plagued.

It was bad to an extent that they had to postpone a number of their fixtures, to allow themselves time to heal from the devastatin­g loss.

What made their case even peculiar was the fact that they lost their house-mate and fellow player during training.

A sudden death that hit right under the roof.

What started off as a normal training session for Platinum Queens ended up in tragedy when Sbekezelo Ncube collapsed and died during a training session on April 13.

Sbeke as she was affectiona­tely known had joined the Zvishavane based side in 2019.

She rose, over the years, to become a vital cog on the team’s perennial dominance in domestic netball.

The Zvishavane-based side has dominated the Premier Netball League since its introducti­on in 2021.

After successful­ly defending their title this season, to record a treble, the Simbarashe Mlambo led side dedicated the title to their fallen mate.

“The coincidenc­e of having our final games of the season in Bulawayo was symbolic for us as a club . . . being confirmed as champions here where we buried Sbeke brought us close to her,” said Coach Mlambo.

“In fact, this one is for her, she was instrument­al in every way and we owe it to her.

“Her family was here, watching the games and it was a great feeling for us so this feat goes to them and the entire Platinum Holdings.”

With their impressive record Platinum Queens lost only one match since 2021.

This was a 26-32 fall against Ngezi Platinum Queens at Baobab Netball Grounds in the league’s first leg, earlier this year.

Prior to joining PNL, the Simbarashe Mlambo mentored side were also the 2019 champions under the Glow sponsored Rainbow Amateur Netball League without tasting defeat.

However, season 2023 had to be different. Up until the end, it was a close contest with youthful side Green Fuel.

The Chisumbanj­e based side finished the season second with 72 points, just two apiece the champions who had 74 points from 38 games.

The two teams clashed in the decider at the last bubble of the season and Platinum Queens won 26-23.

It was a crucial game for both teams, as they had both lost just one match going into the final games.

This had to be the first time that the Platinum Queens needed up to the last match to seal their championsh­ip.

“It was a difficult and tricky season for us, when we played Ngezi in the return fixture, it had to be in Bulawayo . . . ” coach Mlambo said.

“A place close to Sbeke and considerin­g that she was part of the team that lost to the fellow platinum miners in the first leg, we needed to win the reverse fixture for her.

“. . . she had a distinct voice tone and aura, made the game fun and just not hearing that voice on the day was difficult.

“She was a jovial character who could joke and bring life to any situation and this is what we needed on the day as we fought to seal the championsh­ip.”

Mlambo gave credit to his charges for putting up a fine show throughout the season.

“We prayed, played, won, lost and cried as a team and this kept us going until the end,” he said.

“Everyone worked their heart out, knowing fully well that they are appreciate­d in what they do and that their contributi­on mattered so much for the team.”

“Over the years we have worked hard, tried to understand and hold each other up on and off the court. “We believe we are family, we were there for each other emotionall­y when we lost Sbeke, we held on to each other and went through the healing process, we are still on it and I am glad the unity led us here.”

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