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Young Gems eye massive comeback

Story by Reynald Ngwarati

THE Zimbabwe Under 21 netball team, the Young Gems have done their homework from the just ended Netball World Youth Cup Africa Qualifiers in South Africa where they missed out on a ticket to the global games.

On the wake of missing out on the Netball World Youth Cup, the Zimbabwe Under 21 netball team has set its eyes on a massive rebound after identifying and learning from their weaknesses.

The team failed to make it into the top three of the Africa Qualifiers after some narrow defeats, showing signs of promise, that if better investment is put into the team, fortunes can be different.

“We were there, we were alongside those teams even the ones that qualified considering Malawi came second and we just lost by a point to them. There are a lot of points to pick up from there, maybe it is because we had not gelled so well as a team because you find out that some of these teams had been together for a long time, they would get into camp every weekend and for us it was just a short two and a half weeks which in the end may have cost the team the cohesion it should’ve had,” said Young Gems coach, Tapiwa Chirenda.

Playing against better prepared opponents, the young ladies put in a brave fight which saw Thandazile Ndlovu being crowned the shooter of the tournament, to add to the attractive player of the match accolades for the team.

Like the old tale of Zimbabwe’s sport, it came back to the preparations and resource mobilisation that the team fell short.

“We got the best shooter of the tournament, she was very consistent and we are hoping she gets scholarships at colleges. Our team was very strong maybe it was the cohesion that we lacked from the short preparatory time, but going forward now that we have discovered where we fell short next time we’re going to prepare and train a bit longer and find games for the kids to play for them to adjust to the international level. Most of these kids never had prior exposure to the wooden surfaces, they’re used to the hard surfaces that we were training on,” Chirenda added.

The Young Gems had a promising start in their opening two matches at the Netball World Youth Cup Africa Qualifiers, but disaster ensued as they narrowly missed out in the majority of the matches that followed.

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