Gems off to South Africa

Ellina Mhlanga Sports Reporter
RETURNING Gems goal attack Paidamoyo Tinoza reckons that victory at the Diamond Challenge which gets underway tomorrow at the Ngoako Ramatlhodi Indoor Sport Complex — Seshego, Limpopo, South Africa will be a major boost for their World Cup build-up.

The senior netball team left the country by road yesterday for South Africa where they will be up against Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and the hosts in a five-day tournament.

Tinoza has been away from the team since last year because of work commitments but bounced back into the team for the Diamond Challenge.

Speaking just before her team’s departure, the 24-year-old, who has played for the national team since 2010 said winning the tournament will go a long way in boosting their confidence.

“As a team that qualified for the World Cup we hope to perform. If we win, it will help with our confidence, we will gain more confidence ahead of the World Cup. It will mean that we are on the right track, so this gives us a better platform to begin our preparations.

“South Africa has been to the World Cup before, so they have some experience and we can learn something from them. It will be important for us to beat them and it will be a good indication for the World Cup,” said Tinoza.

The 2019 World Cup is scheduled for July 12 to 21 in Liverpool, England.

Tinoza said it’s good to be back after such a long break and acknowledged it has not been easy to reclaim her place in the team.

“It’s good but it has not been easy. I was away for quite some time, not playing or training, so starting again after a year it’s tough because I haven’t really been exercising. There are new players, we have young players and they are a bit competitive,” said Tinoza.

The Gems had a morale booster last week when Minister of Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation Kirsty Coventry visited them during camp at Belvedere Technical Teachers College and pledged government’s support.

Coach Lloyd Makunde and his technical crew are taking this opportunity to assess some new players as part of their efforts to strengthen the team.

Some of the new players making their debut appearance for the senior national side include wing defender Lorraine Manjoro, who expressed her excitement to be part of the team.

“It means a lot, out of all the people who play netball in Zimbabwe I was called-up. Just the fact that I was called into camp, it means a lot to me because it’s every girl’s dream to play in the national team.

“I will try my best to represent my country to the best of my ability because I am sure when they called me up they saw something in me. So I will try my best to represent the country.

“It’s been a learning curve being with the team because these guys have a lot of experience, international games, they have so many caps most of them. So it’s been quite a lesson because when I thought I knew something they would correct me.

“I am hoping that I will prove a point and play well and hoping that I will be called up in future also,” said Manjoro.

Zimbabwe Netball Association president Leticia Chipandu said they are grateful to the Zimbabwe Olympic Committee who in partnership with the Norwegian Olympic and Paralympic Committee and Confederation of Sports sponsored the Gems’ camp.

Zimbabwe’s first game is against Botswana tomorrow.

On Wednesday they have a date against Zambia in what promises to be an exciting encounter. It will be followed by a clash against Namibia on Thursday before they face SA President’s XII on Friday.

They then conclude their campaign against South Africa on Saturday in a match most of the players are looking forward to as they would want to prove a point against their neighbours, regarded as one of the continental powerhouses.