Gems Cancel Training Camp Again!

The Zimbabwe senior national netball team’s preparations for the World Cup scheduled for South Africa in two months’ time suffered another major blow when the team failed to get into camp this week due to a lack of resources.

Initially, the Gems were expected to get into camp last week. But the team which is facing financial constraints failed to regroup to begin the final camp before they travel for the Vitality Netball World Cup scheduled to run from July 28 to August 6, in Cape Town South Africa.

The Zimbabwe Netball Association is now hoping to get the team in camp next week.

But time is running out for the side as they are yet to engage in any meaningful preparations.

The Gems had a month of training between March and April.

The national team was now expecting to have a lengthy camp and engage in friendly matches against Malawi and Uganda before they depart for the tournament. Zimbabwe Netball Association public relations and sponsorship manager Maimba Mapuranga yesterday told The Herald that the camp was no longer going ahead this week. “We do not have the funding to get into camp. We have again failed to get into camp this week. We were supposed to get into camp two weeks ago,” said Maimba. The association’s spokesperson said they only have one sponsor, Nedbank, who are taking care of the major costs.

“Nedbank Bank Zimbabwe is our title sponsor. They have helped a lot. They are the only people who have come through for the national team. They are catering for our airfares to Cape Town, our accommodation for the duration of the World Cup as well other related costs there.

“But the girls need to prepare for the tournament. They need to camp and play friendly matches. We have not secured funding elsewhere to cater to our local camp. For the 33 days we were in camp in March, it cost us $33 000 for accommodation and three meals per day.

“The Zimbabwe Olympic Committee came to our rescue. They gave us US$10 000. So we require fresh funding for camp and we have received none,” said Maimba.

Zimbabwe will be making their second World Cup appearance after their maiden appearance in Liverpool in 2019.

The Gems are set to take on 11-time champions Australia, Tonga and Fiji in Pool A, in the preliminary stages of the tournament.

Their last preparation was last year in November when they took part in the Spar Diamond Challenge in South Africa.

Yesterday, the Sports Commission director General Eltah Nengomasha said they have received funding requests from the netball team as well as the Junior Sables and were working on the applications. The national Rugby Under-20 team is currently in camp in preparation for the World Rugby Junior Trophy scheduled for Kenya in July. “The Sports and Recreation Commission (SRC) has received funding requests for both Netball (GEMS) and the Under 20 Rugby National teams, requests are currently being processed as per the procedure required for granting assistance.

“The applicants have been appraised on the status of their requests and will be advised on the outcome thereof. The SRC is cognizant of the positive strides made by Netball and Rugby toward improving the Nation’s podium performance on the global stage. SRC also acknowledges the role played by the corporate sector in partnering with these teams,” said Nengomasha in a statement. Vitality World Cup hosts South Africa and other African countries are fine-tuning their preparations. The Spar Proteas have since named their final World Cup squad.

In contrast, regional teams like Malawi competed at the Pacific-Aus Sports Netball Series last month in Australia where they played the likes of Fiji, Tonga and Papua New Guinea. Malawi lost to Tonga in the final.

South Africa hosted the Quad Series in January featuring New Zealand, who are the defending champions, Australia and England.

The Spar Proteas had another training camp in Australia as well as two more camps at the Stellenbosch Academy of Sport (SAS). They will have their last camp in July after the completion of the Telkom Netball League. Spar Proteas coach, Norma Plummer, according to the South African media has selected seven new players in her final 15-player squad. HERALD

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