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Gems target to improve world rankings

Story by Anashe Murombedzi

The Zimbabwe netball team, the Gems, had a fruitful year after qualifying for their successive Netball World Cup slated for Cape Town, South Africa, next year.

The month of August saw the Gems completing their tour of duty in South Africa with an emphatic win over Zambia, crushing the Northern Zambezi neighbours to earn a slot at the 2023 global showcase.

They arrived back home to a red-carpet treatment as the elated nation celebrated their qualification for next year’s World Cup alongside hosts South Africa, Uganda and Malawi from Africa.

Back to where the sound roadmap began, the Gems had a gruelling six months training camp at the start of the season.

The coaches were busy scouting for players bringing in young fresh blood and fusing it with experience to come up with a strong squad to embark on a one-week World Cup qualification campaign in South Africa.

Fast forwarding to May, the netball team was shot in the arm by Spar Zimbabwe who signed a sponsorship deal to rally behind the Gems going forward.

It was a major boost as they travelled to Pretoria for the Africa Netball World Cup qualifiers.

They achieved many victories, getting the better of Botswana, Tanzania, Kenya and Namibia, but fell to Malawi and South Africa.

Losing to the two giants it did not stop the Gems from qualifying for the world cup for the second time in a row after begging bronze at the regional tournament behind South Africa and Malawi.

Away from the qualifiers, the Gems were up for another task in the Diamond Challenge in South Africa and were one of the four teams at the event that included hosts South Africa, Scotland and another South African side President’s XII.

Although the tournament was a preparatory event for the World Cup, the Gems ended the campaign winless.

Earlier this month, a draw was conducted for the 2023 Netball World Cup in Cape Town.

Zimbabwe found themselves in Pool A alongside the top ranked team Australia and Tonga who are eighth and Fiji who are two places behind Zimbabwe.

The Ropafadzo Mutsauki-led team is ranked 13th in the world and 4th in Africa and focus is on improving their world rankings, targeting a top 4 finish at the global tournament.

The Netball World Cup will run from the 28th of July to the 6th of August next year.

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