Zimbabwe Netball Association (ZINA) have extended their begging bowl to the corporate world to fulfil their maiden appearance at Netball World Cup from July 12 to 21 at the Echo Arena in Liverpool, England.
Despite being the second biggest sport in the country and the most played, ZINA president Leticia Chipandu said their trip is hanging in the balance due to lack of sponsorship.
Chipandu revealed that the association wrote to various stakeholders including the Government but they have nothing to show with 16 weeks to go to the world show-piece.
“We are kindly appealing for sponsorship for the team, which is 16 weeks away. So far we have been operating without any funding and we are still waiting for responses from the corporate sector whom we have asked to fund our trip.
“Remember, we receive no incentive whatsoever for qualifying for the World Cup. In fact there has never been any before. As of now, we don’t have tickets, accommodation and other necessities.
“Netball is one of the most followed sporting disciplines in the country. Unfortunately we are not given the same priority as soccer despite the fact that the sport is played in every school and province in the country,” she said.
Last year in December, Chipandu revealed a budget of over US$100 000, which will go towards the team’s preparations and the England trip but this publication has it on good authority that (ZINA) fall short of their anticipated target.
Against all odds, the girls’ accomplishment saw them becoming the fourth team from Zimbabwe to qualify for the World Cup of a team sport after the Hockey golden generation, senior rugby and cricket national teams.
Chipandu said the Government was fully aware of their position and their financial woes.
She challenged companies that produce products that are used by women such as sanitary ware,
cosmetics and household products to sponsor netball.
“We have done our budgets and have submitted to the Ministry of Sports through the Sports Commission.
“We are in need of sanitary and other toiletries. We use such products on a daily basis and we call on them to assist us,” Chipandu revealed.
“While the country is going through challenging economic problems, the qualification of the gems to the World Cup is an historic event that needs to be celebrated and supported at the world stage.
“Besides travelling costs, these girls must play international friendly matches to be able to compete in UK.”
The netball association last had sponsorship more than four years ago when they had the Sunbeam Tournament.
Unlike in other sport codes where teams are paid for qualifying for a major event, it’s different in the netball world as the International Netball Federation confirmed in a statement:
“Netball World Cup have to find their own sources of funding to attend the event. Teams are funded by their national sporting bodies (e.g. National Olympic Committees) and/or by fundraising and sponsorship,” reads the statement signed by the INF chief executive officer Clare Briegal.
“The event is managed and delivered by the host Organising Committee (NWC2019 Liverpool), a subsidiary of England Netball who was granted the rights to host the event by INF in 2015.
“The OC is reliant on ticket sales and on funding from the national sports body (UK Sport), local bodies (e.g. Liverpool City Council) and sponsorship to provide the venue and cover the cost of running the event.
“Our ambition would be for the event to provide funding for the teams to attend. Unfortunately the costs of hosting are too great for the organising committee to bear this additional cost.”
The Gems are one of the nine teams that have sealed their place at the game’s highest competition, alongside Uganda, Australia, New Zealand, Jamaica, South Africa, Malawi, Scotland, Northern Ireland, Samoa, Fiji and hosts England.
Zimbabwe, who are ranked 13th in the world, have been drawn in Group A alongside defending champions Australia, Northern Ireland and reigning Asian champions Sri Lanka.