By Chipo Sabeta in LIVERPOOL, England
Any World Cup is supposed to be a dream platform for a professional player. For Zimbabwe netball team players, the ongoing tournament was a moment to cherish, and it has opened doors of opportunities.
Having made history by qualifying for their first ever Netball World Cup, winning three matches in the process at the finals here in Liverpool, some Gems players are on the verge of securing lucrative deals to play in professional netball leagues following recent inquiries by top Australian side Melbourne Vixens Netball Club.
Goal shooter Sharon Bwanali (22) and teenage defender Claris Kwaramba (19) are on the Australian league side’s radar following impressive performances at the World Cup finals.
Goal defender and vice-captain Felistus Kwangwa, who is leading with the most defensive interceptions at the ongoing netball fete, is also on demand, with England sides showing interest.
Bwanali and Kwaramba have played all matches for the Gems here and could only be returning to Zimbabwe to bid farewell to their respective families and teams.
Kwaramba plays for Platinum Queens, while Bwanali turns up for Harare City.
Kwaramba has been starting for the Gems while Bwanali has been used as an impact player.
Her game changing techniques have earned her respect from neutrals, while Vixens couldn’t resist taking the player’s details and making solid moves towards acquiring her.
Gems coach Lloyd Makunde confirmed Vixens’ formal enquiry about the duo.
“I can confirm that a number of scouts and coaches have been inquiring about our players. We came here as underdogs, but we are now the talk of the town.
“The girls have risen to the occasion and credit goes to them. Australian side Vixens have approached Sharon and Claris, but they haven’t finalised anything at the moment.
“I will be glad if it works for them and they join lucrative leagues in the world. It is such international exposure that gives them recognition and their hard work is slowly paying off.
“It will also benefit the Zimbabwe national team when we have netballers playing in professional leagues. One can see what the experience of the likes of Joice Takaidza, who is playing in Australia, brings,” Makunde said.
Bwanali and Kwaramba have age on their side and this would be beneficial for the Australian side to grab raw talent.
Bwanali has been used as an impact substitute and her selfless play has gained her respect from opponents.
She admitted that the Netball World Cup is her only chance and platform to help her find greener pastures.
“There are times when you don’t expect the coach to motivate you.
“This stage is enough for you to give it your all and make a name. I have not been starting many games, but my strength is reading and interpreting the game. It is a blessing in disguise that I start from the bench because it gives me an opportunity to come in as an impact player. I like it that way,” Bwanali said.
Regarding a potential move to Australia, she said it would be a dream come true.
“They engaged me after the encounter against Australia. They took all my details and made their intentions clear. I am praying that this deal goes through. It will be a dream come true and quite a life changing opportunity for me. Their team manager talked to me and I am confident that I will make the grade,” she said.
Besides goal shooter, Takaidza, who plays in Australia, and Adelaide Muskwe who plays for Sevens Stars in the Vitality Netball Super League in England, the rest of the Gems players turn up for teams in Zimbabwe. H Metro