History makers: two in a row

Shelly Guni

It was written, but the writing was not clear.

The team needed at least four wins to qualify.

And as fate would have it, they met Zambia in the decider of the only left slot.

On August 15, 2008 in Lusaka Zambia, the Gems made history by qualifying for the 2019 Netball World Cup for the first time ever.

 Zimbabwe won 64-41 over Zambia.

They went on to perform remarkably well at the 2019 Netball World Cup in Liverpool, England.

And on August 27, 2022, Gems defeated Zambia 59-41 and made history by becoming  one of the four African teams to participate at the 2023 Netball World Cup to be held in Cape Town, South Africa.

This will be the 16th staging of the netball global showcase and will be the first ever to be held on African soil.

The achievement by the GEMS also serves as a great opportunity for the Zimbabwe tourism sector to boost.

The Gems began their qualifying journey in March this year with a month long camp.

They went on to conduct trials to add some new faces to the team

“This is the greatest thing in the history of Zimbabwe netball,” coach Ropafadzo Mutsauki told Review & Mail.

The team got on to a flying start with a 49-41 win over Botswana followed by a close 45-41,  win over nemesis Namibia and a 43-33 win over Tanzania.

They went on to lose 68-47 to hosts South Africa before another thrushing in the hands of Malawi.

The match ended 62 – 41.

“The Journey has not been easy. The girls put on a beautiful show today.  I still cant believe we did it.

“After that defeat to Malawi yesterday we needed to be at our best today so that we can be able to win against this tricky Zambian team.

“My strategy today (Saturday) was to make sure that we cut the Zambian team supply because their shooters are so accurate.  And I think my players got the instructions so well.

“Joyce had a bad start to the tournament but we kept on encouraging her and she did wonders for us.

“From now we are going to work on the team as we start our preparations for the World Cup next year.

“We will build up from here, as you know this has been our rebuilding process.

“This is what any coach would wish for. I have been to the qualifiers before. This time was a different responsibility.

“As a head coach now, the responsibility was bigger and to achieve such a result show that

I am doing something correctly, together with my assistants. We are playing our cards right,” Mutsauki said.

The Zimbabwe Netball Association President, Leticia Chipandu joined the team in celebration soon after the match.

Chipandu praised the team for their effort.

“I cannot even express the joy. We have shed tears, especially as we reflected on the road that led to this day. The girls raised our national flag high.

“We are grateful for the support that came through for us here and at home. We made a vow when we left home that we were not going to disappoint, were hungry for this and indeed made it,” Chipandu said.

Tafadzwa Matura, Beaula Hlungwane and Claris Kwaramba managed to get player of the match awards in different games.

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