The Zimbabwe women hockey under-21 team has made it to the Junior World Cup twice before and twice they have finished last. Barely a month from an appearance at the global stage and the Hockey Association of Zimbabwe (HAZ) is bracing for another tough competition for the girls.
BY MUNYARADZI MADZOKERE
Sixteen of the world’s best women junior hockey teams converge in Santiago, Chile, for the eighth edition of the Junior World which is slated for November 24 to December 4, with Zimbabwe making a first appearance since 2005.
Zimbabwe — the lowest ranked team at the event, on position 56 in the world — is in Group A with giants and world number one side Netherlands as well as United States (sixth) and Korea (ninth).
HAZ’s newly-appointed president Grant Campbell told Standardsport that preparations were going well and reckons it will be an extremely tough competition for the local team.
“The preparations are going well, we are still trying to attract more sponsorship. However, we have managed to raise funds to send the team to represent the country in this prestigious tournament,” he said.
Campbell added: “The tournament; will be extremely tough for the ladies. However, the experience they will gain will be invaluable and this is a fantastic opportunity for our country’s hockey in general. I believe the future is bright for the sport, our youth are very talented and we must strive to compete in Africa and on the international stage.”
Barely a month into his tenure after he was elected the president of the association Campbell is confident of making a huge impact during his time.
“It is an honour and privilege to be elected as president of HAZ. I hope to strengthen the sport through development and hope to attract corporate sponsorship to assist in our task of expanding the game.
“There is huge potential for growth as we have an extremely talented pool of players and strong following in the schools,” he said.
Zimbabwe play the first match against USA on November 24 then take on Korea the following day, with the last group game against pretournament favourites Netherlands coming on November 27.
The country has at least 17 players in universities and colleges abroad, creating a preparatory conundrum, but locally-based players have commenced camp with the coach and 1980 Moscow Olympics gold medallist Trish Davies.
All the other players abroad are training at their respective bases and reporting back to the coach on a weekly basis.
The actual camp involving the majority of university girls is pencilled for November 11 to 17 with the team set to leave the country on the 18th to meet USA-based girls in Chile.
Team: Stephanie Campbell (Captain)(SA), Jordyn Clipstone (USA), Lauren Dent (Eng), Sinead Cockcroft, Estelle Stambolie (Eng) Carla Van Oudtshoorn (SA), Jessica Dollar (SA), Aimee Nativel (SA), Tyler Groenewald (SA) Cheryl Dzapasi (Chisipite), Megan Shexson (Peterhouse), Chelseas Dollar (SA), Sophie MacDonald (SA), Fariyah Omar Sha (USA), Shannon Hart (USA), Simone Machussen (Peterhouse), Kelly Diplock (Gateway), Michelle Kabaira (Lions).