IN another encouraging development for the Gems, Simbisa Brands have come on board with $300 000 sponsorship package for the senior national netball team ahead of their participation at the Vitality Netball World Cup next month.
The team is scheduled to leave early next month for the world event to take place from July 12 to July 21 in Liverpool, England, and they are now in the final phase of their preparations.
As the tournament draws closer, a number of corporates have come on board to support the team, and Simbisa Brands have also come in through their Chicken Inn brand to support the Gems, who will be making their debut appearance at the World Cup.
Simbisa Brands managing director Warren Meares confirmed the sponsorship and said they were moved by the team's story, having had to rise above their challenges to qualify for the global showpiece.
"We are putting 300 000 (in local currency). Basically we saw the ladies, we saw them on YouTube, we have seen them win and it's a great story for Zimbabwean women.
"We definitely support women, we believe in women. Big part of our management and our associates are women and so we have women taking exceptional positions in Simbisa. So we are a company that believes in supporting women and the rights of women. So we felt obliged when we saw the plight of these women.
"With all the challenges to have gone all the way to World Cup, I mean these ladies are phenomenal. What they have done with the very little they had we just felt that we have to do something for these ladies," said Meares.
Meares said the unveiling of the sponsorship should take place in a couple of days. "The unveiling should happen in the next couple of days," Meares said.
ZINA president Leticia Chipandu said they were delighted by the support they were getting and the coming on board of Simbisa.
"We are very excited about the sponsorship from Simbisa. Actually Simbisa are co-sponsors with Econet/Cassava Smartech. Simbisa is our gold sponsor and Econet is our platinum sponsor.
"Simbisa, their Chicken Inn brand is on the girls (official) kit. We are very excited about this sponsorship . . . We are just waiting to unveil the sponsorship at a date to be advised very soon.
"This will go a long way in cushioning the needs of the girls as they go to Liverpool. We are very grateful to all our sponsors," Chipandu said.
Last Thursday, several pledges were made by various corporates during a send-off dinner for the team in Harare and Chipandu said they were making follow-ups on some of the pledges.
The ZINA president revealed that they were close to meeting their budget for the World Cup. "We are still following up on the pledges that were made by other corporates to see how much we are going to get out of the dinner. But whatever we are going to get, we are very grateful and more so we are more grateful of the dinner other than the money.
"As for meeting the target, let me say we are very close. So what I can only say is that the team will go to the World Cup.
"We have raised substantial amounts that have taken care of the team's needs, the kit. The Government has got in for the tickets and the other things are coming up. I think by end of the week, I will be in a position to say here we are, this is in place, perhaps this is still pending," said Chipandu.