Zimbabwe: U21 Coaches Eager to Step Up Preps

29 October 2020

Sports Reporter

ZIMBABWE'S Under-21 hockey squads' coaches are eager to return to the pitch and up the Junior World Cup qualifiers preparations set for early next year in Accra, Ghana.

Hockey Association of Zimbabwe have applied for approval from the Government, through the Sports and Recreation Commission, to resume their activities.

The main priority will be the national senior squads, the men and women going for the Central-South Africa tournament in February, and the Under-21s -- men and women -- preparing for the qualifiers to the global competition in March.

Squads for senior and junior teams are already in place and have been mainly having online training programmes. Players have been working out at their respective bases since they are not yet allowed to conduct group training sessions.

The Under-21 men's coach, Fidelis Majuba, said he is satisfied with the progress they are making, but underscored the importance of group trainings.

"We are desperate at the moment to get back onto the field," he said.

"We are hoping the SRC will okay our application.I know that HAZ recently had an application to ensure that, at least, our national players can get out there and start preparing.

"It is getting late now, because we are heading to November, and it means we are left with less than five months before the tournament.

"We would really love to get out there and play."

For the selection, this time around, the targeted players were those who have some experience of playing at a bigger stage .

They were being monitored to see their progress, in the last couple of years, as they rose through the ranks.

With the players having already been exposed, to a higher level of competition, Majuba believes it will come in handy.

"In essence we have actually targeted players who have been involved from different structures, from the school structure, provincially and to Under-18 national level.

"A number of them have actually taken part in a number of international competitions, so we kind of developed from of a nucleus where we have identified certain players who have gained experience.

"While we have been unlucky that we have not been able to meet, we have managed to develop some kind of a nucleus, which we hope will form the main part of the squad," said Majuba.

Tendayi Maredza is in charge of the women's side.

He was the assistant coach when the Under-21 women featured at the same event hosted by Chile in 2016.

He has been involved with the Under-18s, as well, and says it is a plus since most of them have already been to international events, such as the Youth Olympics in 2018.

"We had to do online session only and then we had to ask the girls to do fitness sessions, so it has not been easy because, obviously, the girls would want to be on the astro turf, I would want them to be on the astro turf and work.

"So, once we get on the turf, it's going to be more focus on the structure.

"I am not worried about the basics a lot, so it's more about small-sided games, preparing them for the actual tournament rather than just working on the basics," Maredza said.

HAZ are waiting for feedback from the Sports Commission.

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