Zimbabwe Netball Association president Leticia Chipandu has saluted the senior team for their outstanding performance that earned them first position at the just-ended Pent Series in Windhoek, Namibia. The Gems battled it out against Botswana, Swaziland, Zambia and the hosts in the Series that was also a world-raking competition. "I am very proud of them. I respect their passion and determination to do well for netball and raising the flag of Zimbabwe very high. The sky is the limit.
"We are very grateful to the Ministry of Sport for financially supporting this trip. This is great recognition for women and girls as netball is the major sport for women in the country.
"It's going to improve our rankings greatly," Chipandu said.
Zimbabwe won all their four matches to be crowned champions and Zambia were second. Namibia were third while Botswana were fourth and Swaziland finished bottom of the group.
This is the second time the senior side has clinched gold after the Hong Kong tri-nations in March.
Chipandu said this is likely to be their last big event for this year as the major tournaments they had on their calendar for 2017 were the Africa Championships and the World Youth Cup held in June and July. The senior side took part in the Africa Championships in Uganda and got a bronze medal while the Under-21 were at the World Youth Cup where they came ninth.
"The Namibia tournament just came but our major events for this year were the Africa Championships and the World Youth Cup. If any invitational tournaments come up along the way and if we can afford to go, we will go, it's a bonus for us as far as training is concerned.
"But I am saying for now on our programme of the year we are done. And will be now looking at the World Cup qualifiers scheduled for next year. The qualifiers are starting next year in July.
"But for us we are starting recruiting and beefing up the team that we have, trying some new players like what we did in Namibia. We had about three players we roped in who are relatively young so that the team is strong," Chipandu said.
Some of the players who came on board are goal attack Tafadzwa Matura and goal defence Portia Miti.
"I would say 2017 was a very hectic or busy year, probably very busy. All the tournaments we participated in outside the country we were able to prepare well and we competed well. It was not just like participation.
"We have got two gold and one bronze which is an outstanding performance for one team that's the senior team. And then position nine in the World Youth Cup, it's also a great achievement.
"I would also want to say this was a very fruitful year for netball," added Chipandu. Zimbabwe are currently ranked 16th on the International Netball Federation rankings and their victory in Namibia is expected to see them moving up the ladder after beating Zambia who are sitting on position 15.