THE National Under-17 boys and girls will begin their preparations for the Youth Olympic Games qualifiers to be held early next year when they take on Zambia in friendly matches this weekend at Arundel School. The second edition of the Youth Olympic Games will be held next year from August 16 to 28 and the qualifiers for the Games are pencilled for Zambia in February.
And, as part of their preparations, the national association engaged the Zambian teams.
The matches will be played tomorrow and Sunday with the two countries' boys and girls teams clashing.
Hockey Association of Zimbabwe vice-president, Humphrey Chigwedere, said the event will give the coaches an opportunity to select the final teams in preparation for next year's tournaments.
"The idea for both of us is to prepare for the Youth Olympic qualifiers to be held in Zambia in February next year.
"The local coaches will also use the event as a platform to try out some combinations and for both nations it will be a chance to try the five-aside version of the game.
"It's kind of new because we usually play the 11-aside hockey. It's just that the field is smaller than the usual field but most of the rules are the same," said Chigwedere.
Chigwedere said they were hoping for the best from the teams as they prepare for the qualifiers from which the top country only will progress to the main event.
"Preparations for the Zimbabwean side have been okay. We have two groups that have been training in Bulawayo and Harare. But because of the course we had limited time as the squads were training once a week.
"But I think they are ready to play because they are just coming out of the league in the second term. Our junior teams have previously done well on the international arena, so we are expecting them to do well.
"We have to be on top of the game because only one team will qualify," said Chigwedere.
Zambia were expected in the country late yesterday ahead of the games starting tomorrow morning.
The second edition of YOG will be held from in Nanjing, China.
The Games are an international multi-sport event organised by the International Olympic Committee and are held after every four years with athletes between the age of 14 and 18 taking part.
They were first held in 2010 in Singapore.