By Veronica Gwaze
Zimbabwe Gems coach Lloyd Makunde reckons that his charges have emerged from their tour of South Africa a better outfit and has recommended a return to that country before they head off to the Netball World Cup finals in Liverpool, England in July.
The Gems held a four-day camp at the Telkom league in South Africa and despite losing their games, Makunde drew a lot of positives and liked the progress he saw from his squad. Lack of funding have meant that the Gems cannot go to Europe to prepare for the World Cup.
At the Telkom League, the Gems played against the Spar Smileys, which is made up of the locally-based Spar Proteas and the men’s national team.
“We’ll definitely consider another camp in South Africa after another worthy one from which we came back last week after playing the Spar Smileys and the men’s national team.
“By considering to go back there instead of playing other countries, it does not mean those other countries are less important but as the Africa powerhouse, South Africa have a high level of competition.
“Apart from that, they have the facilities that we would want to utilise, for example their High Performance Centre, which we believe will work in our favour because they (facilities) are close to the ones we will find at the World Cup,” Makunde said.
Despite falling 41-50 and 47-82 to Spar Smileys and President’s Stars respectively, Makunde left South Africa satisfied with what he saw.
“Revelations came with the South Africa tour, as a coach your eye may see far beyond what a player sees, which is why sometimes you have to push a player, bring out that potential you see within them and boost their confidence.
“In South Africa, I saw something, which had been hidden within some players coming to light as they turned into beasts once they stepped on to the court. I am happy the games in South Africa acted as confidence boosters for the players and now they understand that everything is possible in netball.
“We have always fallen by wide margins to South African teams because they have more exposure but not anymore, they (Gems) played according to game plan except for some few areas where we were found wanting,” Makunde said.
At the Telkom netball league, Gems goal attacker Ursula Ndlovu bagged the most outstanding moment of the match award while goal defender Felistus Kwangwa was crowned player of the match. They pocketed R3 000 each. While the mid court seemed to be the weak link in the past, Makunde is happy that it is becoming intact.
“In terms of endurance, technique, combination links and tactics, we are good. We just need minor touch ups because World Cup is the highest level of competition, therefore we need to be smooth. I was very much pleased with defence and how much they stood against lethal shooters, especially the President’s Stars shooter who is almost like the one we are going to play against as we take on Sri-Lanka.” Sunday Mail