The Sunday Mail
ZIMBABWE coach Ropafadzo Mutsauki has had to resort to plan B to get his Gems to resume their preparations for the Netball World Cup, amid indications of financial constraints hampering the senior team.
The Gems were initially expected to regroup at the start of this month for the final leg of their training camp ahead of the World Cup showpiece.
But due to limited resources, they had to shelve their plans for three weeks. They will regroup this week.
The World Cup, for which the Gems made their debut in Liverpool four years ago, is scheduled for July 28-August 6 in Cape Town, South Africa.
Zimbabwe, hosts South Africa, Uganda and Malawi will carry African hopes as they battle against 12 other nations for honours.
Given the challenges confronting his side, Mutsauki has come up with a schedule in which he has been given access to mentor his charges while they are training at their respective clubs.
This, he said, has given him room to keep an update of each player’s performance and also guide them on areas that need attention.
“Daily, I am at task. We are not yet in camp, so I had to come up with a schedule to go around and assess players across their various clubs,” Mutsauki told the Sunday Mail Sport.
“I follow up and keep an update on their current form and fitness levels. This gives us room to plan so that we know which areas to focus on when we get into camp.
“Given the time left until the World Cup, we cannot be focusing much on fitness levels anymore. All players should be fit by now, so we will be looking much into the levels of our play.”
Mutsauki also revealed that he will put a lot of emphasis on the players’ mental fitness when they get back into camp.
He reckons that the competition for places in the World Cup squad will have a bearing on players, hence the need for psychological therapy sessions.
“This will be the last chance to make it on to the final squad, so the players are obviously under pressure.
“We have to come up with a proper plan as coaches to deal with that aspect; we need to manage and assist them to release that pressure because it is not good for them.
“Too much pressure will destabilise individual performance and, as a result, the team is affected, so we need some counselling sessions.”
Mutsauki added that, as coaches, they need to be able to understand their players, especially their mentality.
“We are looking forward to regrouping soon and this time, our foreign-based players will be joining us, so we are ready to rock the global stage.
“Players need to be on the same level mentally when we go for the World Cup, so the work has already started. We will then blend them with the foreign-based and work on team spirit and unity.”
Zimbabwe have set themselves an audacious target of a top-five finish at the World Cup.
Mutsauki is hoping that the Gems can also bank on the experience they got in Liverpool in 2019.
He was an assistant to the then coach Lloyd Makunde at the last World Cup.
“I have an idea of what that stage is like. Actually, for me, it now feels like we should be a regular feature at the World Cup.
“The fact that I have been there keeps me at ease because I have learnt so much.
“I recall the first time. Everything was new, so, while we had games to focus on, on the other hand, we had so much to learn,’’ he said.
“In Liverpool, I was assistant coach but my superiors gave me tasks. I had the room to be me and from that experience, I came back with a lot of lessons that should help me this time.”