The Sunday Mail
ZIMBABWE’S participation at this year’s Netball World Cup Finals currently hangs in the balance as the Zimbabwe Netball Association is yet to secure the allotted funds to send the Gems to Liverpool, England.
Despite Zimbabweans in the diaspora having pledged to raise part of the funds, ZINA needs to raise roughly £21 000 for the flights and accommodation for a 26- member delegation.
Having already launched several fundraising programmes for the netball team, the UK-based community spokesperson Barbra Chakanyuka Siyachitema said they are committed to raising at least £5 000.
The money will be handed over to the Gems at the welcome reception in Liverpool, where the community has pledged to host them upon arrival.
However, Siyachitema made it clear that the funds will not be channelled towards flights and accommodation, but towards the welfare of the teams when they get to the World Cup.
“As the Diaspora community, we felt obliged to help the Gems as a way of appreciating them for raising the national flag high,” said Siyachitema.
“We have launched several fundraising programmes, and I am happy to say that we have tremendous progress towards our target.
“However, while we are targeting £5 000, we are not guaranteed that we will achieve because it is coming from well-wishers.
“This is why we have made it clear that we are not going to be responsible for their flights and accommodation — that area has its responsible authorities.
“We have been selling tickets for all of Zimbabwe’s matches since September last year and tickets for the Gem’s opening match have already sold out.
“This goes to show how excited and truly proud we are and raising funds for the Gems should not be a problem,” she said.
With the UK-based community fully committed to the Gems’cause, the onus is now on the Zimbabwe Netball Association to play their part.
Unfortunately, progress is slow as the netball mother body seems to have their hands full with commitments.
“We have a very busy year and all our tournaments need careful planning because we do not want to end up with unnecessary pressure in the end,” said ZINA president Leticia Chipandu.
“Currently, we are trying our level best to raise funds for the World Cup and we have made some progress in that department.
“We are currently finalising our paper work, which we hope to present to the Government, which has also committed to ensuring that the team travels,” said Chipandu.
The World Cup has been slated for July 12-21 2019 in Liverpool, England.
Zimbabwe has been drawn into Group A, where they will face world giants, Australia, Northern Ireland and Sri-Lanka.
Group B will comprise of New Zealand, Malawi, Barbados and Singapore, while South Africa, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago and Fiji make up Group C.
Group D will see the She-Cranes of Uganda slug it out with England, Scotland and Samoa.
The top three teams from each group will proceed to the second group stage, after which the top two teams qualify for the finals.
Uganda and Zimbabwe qualified through the African Championships that where held in Zambia last September.
They are expected to join South Africa and Malawi — which gained automatic qualification due to their superior world ranking — as Africa’s representatives.
South Africa and Malawi are currently ranked fifth and sixth on International Netball Federation world rankings.