THE Zimbabwe Gems once again have to push their monetary misgivings into the shade to leave an indelible footprint at the African Netball Championships in South Africa.
Just as in tournaments gone by, the Zimbabwe Gems will compete in the prestigious event without the prospect of allowances.
Impeccable sources told Zim Morning Post that Zimbabwe Netball Association (Zina) had pinned hopes on government to bankroll part of the tour’s financial obligations but those efforts hit a brick wall with government insisting that it was broke.
The Gems, however, breathed a sigh of relief on Wednesday when National Foods, through their brand, Pearlenta Instant Porridge, donated Z$250 000 (about US$15,000) for flights, kits, bags, and upkeep.
The donation was brokered by Cutting Edge Consultancy.
Asked how much government had assisted, director in the Ministry of Youth , Sport, Arts and Recreation Eugenia Chidakwa who gave a key note address at Wednesday donation ceremony said she had not come prepared to take questions from the media.
An elated Zimbabwe Netball Association (Zina) secretary-General Barbra Rice said the team was close to giving up their quest before National Foods turned saviour.
“The journey had become difficult but I want to say thank you to National Foods for bailing us out. It had become difficult for us,” Rice told a Wednesday press conference.
“I also want to thank Cutting Edge Consultancy for facilitating this sponsorship,” she added.
Team manager Ledwin Dondo said their will be taking a lean squad of 12 players to the African Netball Championships due to their financial position.
National Foods group marketing executive Lawrence Kutinyu said “continue to give each and every player a food hamper just to makes sure that they don’t have to worry about the basics.”
The Gems will receive food hampers from National Foods for the next 12 months.
Zimbabwe finished 8th at their first ever World Cup held in London in July,a tournament in which they opened their account with a convincing 79-49 victory over Sri Lanka to set the tone for an unforgettable tournament.
The tournament was not without its hiccups with the team holding a make-or-break meeting over contractual issues, hours before their Group F encounter against Malawi amid unresolved monetary concerns.
Despite the off field drama, the Gems still pushed their monetary misgivings into the shade and left the world spellbound. Meanwhile, the Zimbabwe Gems are racing against time to reach Cape Town in time for their first match against Uganda scheduled for 20:00 hours Friday night.
The team is set to leave Friday morning for the tournament after their travel was delayed due to unavailability of funds.