New Gem unearthed

14 Nov, 2021 - 00:11 0 Views
New Gem unearthed

The Sunday Mail

Veronica Gwaze

In just a fortnight, she has grown from the young girl who dreamt of donning the Gems’ jersey one day to being feted like a queen on the African continent.

Nobukhosi Ndlovu, who also plays for Bulawayo’s Gold Reef, had to announce her arrival in the senior national netball team with a powerful statement to justify her call-up.

She made an impressive debut at the Pent Series last week in Windhoek, Namibia.

She continues to make an impression at the ongoing African Championships.

The 21-year-old Ndlovu — a mid-court versatile player who graduated from the Young Gems — has started all matches at both tournaments.

She has been ably holding forte at centre for the new-look Gems side.

“I dream beyond a mere call-up. I am hoping to make it onto the first seven one day so that I get to experience how it is like to play at that level and to brush shoulders with some of the world’s finest,” she said before she broke into the senior team two weeks ago.

She was roped into the seniors’ fold alongside Sinethemba Ncube, Lynnette Tanhira and Priscilla Ndlovu following the retirement of some experienced players when Zimbabwe returned from the 2019 World Netball Cup in Liverpool, England.

The new introductions are part of the rebuilding exercise ahead of the 2023 global showcase scheduled for South Africa.

“This is one of those rare opportunities and moments you never forget in life, especially looking back at how I rose from Free Stars Academy to this level,” she said.

The new Gems’ centre, whose skills are steadily earning her a growing legion of fans, was spotted in 2017 during her days at Free Stars Academy by Gold Reef assistant coach Sanele Ndlovu, who was the head coach then.

Sanele told The Sunday Mail Sport that Ndlovu is yet to reach her full potential.

He recalls converting her from a defender to an attacking player and how she proved to be a force on both ends of the field.

“This is a rare talent that we have here. She plays perfectly in both positions and has the discipline . . . this is just her beginning,” he said.

Gems gaffer Lloyd Makunde is equally happy with their new find.

“She is highly defensive and equally good on the offense, which makes her just a complete player in the making.

“Within a short time, she has gelled well with the team. She has the drive and judging by her current form, give her another African dance and everyone will appreciate her even more,” Makunde said.

Despite the team generally producing a hot-cold performance at the continental showcase, Makunde feels they are in the right direction.

The Gems picked wins against Namibia and Tanzania but lost to traditional giants South Africa and Malawi.

The team is currently prioritising rebuilding for the 2023 World Cup.

“We brought a bunch of young players whom we scouted from across the country and they have proved that they are good enough to do business, so looking ahead, I see a dominant Gems come 2023,” he said.

“We have managed to see where we are getting it wrong and despite the short time we have for practice, we are doing good as we work on those areas.”

The Gems yesterday  lost 73- 47 to Uganda before edging Zambia  54-53. They will play their last two games this week.

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