HARARE - It never rains but pours for the World Cup-bound Zimbabwe senior netball team as their trip to the global fiesta scheduled for Liverpool, England, in July hangs in the balance due to biting financial constraints.
Just when everything seemed to be falling into place for the team after they started preparations later than scheduled last week, it has emerged the sports mother body, the Zimbabwe Netball Association (ZINA) is facing serious financial challenges to fly the team to their maiden appearance at the quadrennial competition.
Zimbabwe booked their place for the event for the first time in an African qualifying tournament held at the Olympic Development Centre in Lusaka, Zambia, last year.
But, there has been little ground work done since then in terms of preparing the team for the highly demanding event.
Instead, stakeholders have been channelling their energy in factional fights over the leadership of the game, a development which initially threatened the country’s participation until authorities intervened to restore normalcy.
ZINA president Leticia Chipandu had ordered the head coach Lloyd Makunde not to include players whose clubs compete in the Rainbow Amateur League (RNAL) in the team.
The RNAL currently has a running league while the ZINA-run league has literally disbanded as all clubs which were there last season have defected to RNAL.
It is against this background that Chipandu sought to block Makunde from choosing players in RNAL in the hope that she would reverse the development.
But, after the intervention of the authorities, Makunde was able to select his provisional squad which he is already conditioning for the big stage in England.
Preparations have been going on since last week with Makunde expressing satisfaction his charges were adjusting to his methods ahead of the global tournament which is barely three months away.
But, in comes another setback.
Chipandu has revealed that their coffers are dry and the team risks missing the trip to Europe if corporates fail to come to their rescue.
In any case, Chipandu has literally run the show on her own in the past but she has admitted the World Cup mission is too big a task she can’t run it alone.
She has made a passionate plea to the corporate world to come forward and help out the girls.
“There are no sponsors as yet to talk about. The team is preparing and it is our hope that they will do well at the tournament. But, if we can’t have sponsors at this juncture then what can we talk of, nothing,” she said.
“This is a big tournament that we are talking about. We have extended our begging bowl to the corporates and hopefully we will have some coming aboard. Otherwise the trip won’t materialise.”
Giants South Africa, Malawi and Uganda are the three other countries from Africa going to participate at the 16-team World Cup tournament.