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Zimbabwe netball: After a breakthrough World Cup – what happens next?

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From Jess Anderson
BBC Sport
They were the team which gatecrashed the World Cup.
They impressed crowds with their flair, and off it them charmed using their charm – dance their way around to the television coverage of the BBC.
The Gems of zimbabwe went – but at one point it was not certain they would be able to compete in Liverpool. They lacked the financial funds they wanted to produce the trip and trained without facilities or appropriate equipment.
But contend that they did – ending eighth, winning an unprecedented 3 matches.
Thus, having found themselves in the world stage, what does the future hold for netball from Zimbabwe?
A few of Zimbabwe’s players had not played on a proper netball court, Prior to the World Cup started.
Goal shooter Joice Takaidza, who currently lives in Australia, says the facilities inside her homeland are”the worst to train on”.
“At school we play sand and once you finish playing with the dust will be on your neck,” she tells BBC World Service’s Sportshour program.
“From the Premier League we perform concrete grounds, which are extremely hard and very dangerous too because they damage your knees”
Funding is the principal problem – as is true in sports.
As government minister Kirsty Coventry, an Olympic swimming gold medallist in 2004 and 2008, clarifies:”two weeks prior to the tournament, the Zimbabwe Netball Association had not raised the money they had needed to.
“We provided a great deal of support to them to be there.”
Funds appeals increased only #250 – a drop in the ocean for the likes of Australia and England – but it left a difference that was significant .
Yet the issues did not end there.
When the team finally arrived in the UK, head coach Lloyd Makunde needed to venture into Liverpool and invest 30 of his own money on equipment including balls and cones.
“We faced several challenges,” states Makunde.
“We found teams like Australia, New Zealand, Jamaica if they had been warming up, and we really didn’t have the equipment when we were performing the training.”
Victories over established netball countries such as Northern Ireland, Barbados and Sri Lanka at the World Cup showed the potential for further achievement.
But where will the support they desire come from?
England goalkeeper Geva Mentor is among those trying to help.
Mentor has gathered equipment and kit to deliver to less based netball states since seeing the disparity between teams in the 2015 World Cup at Sydney.
“The gift is there,” she states. “It’s just trying to tap into that and make sure they understand what they have got and they have obtained the help around them for each of those girls to be able to thrive.
“One of the hardest bits is actually finding people on the floor to disperse the kit and put it out into the rural areas where individuals actually need it”
Coventry – the ministry for youth, game arts and recreation – acknowledges the Zimbabwean government must place”different constructions” set up in sport, but says that there are bigger priorities within the country.
“We’re going through a challenging time and there are things inside the nation, inside the economy, like medications for people, like education for individuals… and game isn’t up in this region at right now.
“So for me to sit here and we would like to build netball courts and football fields and swimming… it’s totally unrealistic and I would be letting down thousands and hundreds down.”
Coventry wants to collaborate with sport institutions and public ventures to drive an improvement in centers.
“I feel that the athletes are proving that we’ve got tremendous ability and that’s not going away,” she says.
“So it is up to us to put into place the different structures which will enable for sports to be professional.”

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