ZIMBABWE'S Zone VI Youth Games team is scheduled to leave this morning for Zambia and the Young Mighty Warriors are the country's medal prospect at this year's tournament. Zimbabwe is sending a relatively small team of 33 athletes that will represent the country in swimming, athletics, athletics in visually impaired and women's football.
Zimbabwe's women's team won gold following their win over South Africa at the 2010 finals in Manzini, Swaziland, but since then a lot has happened with more than seven players of that crop promoted to the senior women's team.
The women's competition will this year have four countries, which will all play one another on a round-robin format, before heading to the semi-finals.
The team that finishes on top will take on the third-placed side, while the second-placed nation will play the country that finishes fourth in the pool. Hosts Zambia, South Africa, Namibia and champions Zimbabwe will be battling for honours at the Lusaka Games.
Young Mighty Warriors' coach Langton Giwa, who has led the Zimbabwe Under-20 women's soccer team to gold medals in the last two editions of the Zone Six Championships, begins another journey for success when he leads his charges at this year's event.
"As the defending champions we are expecting to retain the title but it's not going to be easy," said Giwa.
"We have a new team all together from the previous squad that won in the previous edition but we have worked hard with these players and they are showing a lot of promise.
"It's unfortunate that we couldn't get a chance to play one international friendly but from what we have assessed at training the girls are in good shape.
"The women's league has kept the players busy such that when we started camping we were working more on tactics than fitness." Giwa said he was impressed by the talent in his squad and he expects the young girls to go far and retain the title despite missing several players from the previous squad.
Players like Rudo Neshamba, Emaculate Msipa, Rudo Machingura, Rutendo Makore and others have since promoted to the senior team which left the technical team with a lot of work to do. We worked on building the confidence of our young players and we expecting them to do well and bring the title home. In athletics Dumisani Bhebehe and Sithulisiwe Zhou will be carrying the country's hopes of medals. Trust Madoro will be another medal hopeful in the 800m and 1500m.