The Zimbabwe women Under-21 hockey national team have flown the national flag high, qualifying for the Hockey Junior World Cup set for Chile from November 24 to December 4 this year. By DON MAKAMYANGA
This came at a time when the country was still celebrating the qualification of the Mighty Warriors for this year’s edition of the Olympics Games.
The hockey team qualified for the tournament automatically after coming below in the qualifiers which were held in Namibia last week, finishing second to South Africa in a group comprising four teams.
The qualifiers were played in a round robin format.
In an interview with Standardsport, Hockey Association of Zimbabwe (HAZ) president, Humphrey Chigwedere said his executive was delighted with the feat the women had achieved and plans were underway for the preparations. He said the team sought to emulate the 1980 form of the Golden Girls, who won a gold at the Olympics.
“We are very delighted that we managed to qualify for the World Cup and our main aim is to improve on our last outing in 2005, but our very main target is that we emulate the Golden Girls’ form of 1980 and we believe with the team that we have, nothing can stop us,” said the HAZ boss.
After having narrowly qualified for the World Cup, Chigwedere said there was need to improve on preparations, hence he would be meeting with key stakeholders to map a way forward on how the team would prepare.
“It was not the kind of preparation that we would have wanted when we went to Namibia, but now we have eight months before the tournament so we have to start preparing now,” he said.
We have given the girls one week off and they will regroup this week. We will be meeting with the technical team, management and the players with the hope of coming up with a programme that will be used leading up to the tournament.”
After being elected to lead the association last year, Chigwedere said with the recent achievement by the ladies, it was his wish that the game of hockey be spread across the country, with his main target being to have a member from each province.
“We can’t say that the team we have is the best Zimbabwe can provide. We need to spread the sport across the country and unearth talent and give opportunity to every Zimbabwean. My dream is to have all provinces contributing at least a player to the national team,” said Chigwedere