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THE national Under-18 netball team to represent the country at the upcoming Africa Youth Games trooped into camp last week at Mabelreign Girls High School for their preparations.

The Games are scheduled to run from May 22 to 31 in Gaborone, Botswana, with athletes between the age of 14 and 18 competing in 20 sport codes.

The Zimbabwe Olympic Committee early this month announced a 68-member team to represent the nation in Botswana in 10 sporting disciplines including netball and the Zimbabwe Netball Association are not taking any chances as they are already conducting their first training camp.

Zina president Letitia Chipandu said they have a combined team of the Under-18s going for the Africa Youth Games and Under-20s preparing for the African Union Sports Region Five Youth Games to be held later this year in Bulawayo.

However, Chipandu noted that their main focus for now will be on the Africa Youth Games and are hoping to do well.

“We have 15 players in camp and the other three — Progress Shoko, Shumirai Dzorani and Trishy Gono — will join us soon.

“Basically we are in camp to train a team that is going to successfully represent Zimbabwe at the Africa Youth Games. This is an opportunity that we really welcome as netball and as a sport because it gives our athletes a platform that we have always wanted.

“What I am saying to the nation is that we are going to bring home a gold medal because the bulk of the players are the Under-17s that won gold at the Cosasa Games in Namibia last year,” said Chipandu. The Zina president said they will also use the Games for their developmental programmes since they are participating for the first time.

“It’s part of our development strategy as netball and also to market and sell our sport as women in sport.

“We are saying this is the first time netball is competing in the Games and we have a comprehensive training schedule where the players are going through different paces in different skills that they are expected to master well. This particular age-group is going to feed into our national team.

“These Games are going to improve our ranking, for example, we are ranked 24th in the world and we are saying this participation in the regional and continental event will contribute positively.

“And as an association we are very excited, that is why we decided to camp early. This is our first camp and they will break on the 27th, we will then resume training on May 10.

“After this camp we are going to attach our girls to different teams. Some will be attached to our league teams here in Harare and in Bulawayo.

“Those in school are going to continue at their respective schools because the second term is for ball games so it’s an aantage for us.

“And we hope their act will be polished,” said Chipandu.

The teams are being guided by Ropafadzo Mutsauki and assisted by Tapiwa Chirenda.

The first edition of the Africa Youth Games was held in Rabat, Morocco, in July 2010 and attracted over 1 000 athletes from 41 countries participating in 16 sport codes.

However, this year the Games will see an increased participation with 2 500 athletes competing in 20 sport disciplines.

And the Games will serve as a preparation platform for the second Summer Youth Olympic Games set for Nanjing, China, from August 16 to 28.

Team

Sharon Bwanali, Chido Chiwenga, Salma Dani Haji, Mercy Mukwadi, Michelle Muzanenamo, Lynette Tanhira, Nomagugu Makhalima, Melissa Marara, Takudzwa Mawira, Fiona Mpanduki, Ropafadzo Muhwira, Lisa Mutambu, Lynn Pasi, Getrude Mapiye, Progress Shoko, Shumirai Dzorani, Trishy Gono.

Source : The Herald

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