ZIMBABWE – The Under-21 hockey teams are not leaving anything to chance as they continue with their preparations for the Africa Junior Cup in Windhoek, Namibia, next month.
The event catering for both men and women is scheduled for March 18 to 28 and Zimbabwe will field teams in all sections.
The women’s team began their weekend practice session yesterday while their male counterparts will practice today at Arundel.
Assistant coach for men, Prince Mwale, said they will be working with players from Harare while the other members of the team will be working in their respective provinces including Masvingo and Bulawayo.
“I think the most important thing is they are improving gradually. They are starting to understand the role we want them to play. We just need to work on little errors to make it perfect,” said Mwale.
Tendayi Maredza, who is the women’s assistant coach, said fitness levels have improved.
“I think fitness has improved, we have improved in terms of the basics and structures. We are working with people in Zimbabwe.
“Some of the girls have gone back to universities. As for team strategies and other things, we will do it in Namibia. That is when we will have the whole squad.
“I am expecting us to make it to the semi-final and then see what happens,” said Maredza.
Hockey Association of Zimbabwe president, Humphrey Chigwedere, said they are still working on the funding part for the teams.
Chigwedere, however, said they are happy with the progress the teams are making with less than a month now to go before the competition starts in Namibia.
“I am getting reports from the managers on Sunday but they have been training and so far so good. We will be going. Ideally we need about $50 000 for both teams.
“I know for certain some people have paid their airfares, some are coming from South Africa so they will be flying from their bases and some are flying from here,” said Chigwedere.
The tournament is serving as a qualifier to the World Cup and the top two countries from each section will qualify for the global showpiece.
The men’s World Cup competition is scheduled for December 1 to 11 in India and the women’s event will be in Chile from November 26 to December 4.
Zimbabwe will be hoping to be one of the countries that will qualify for the global event. In 2005 the women’s side went to Chile for the World Junior Cup.
However, it’s not going to be easy considering challenge they will face from countries such as South Africa, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria and Egypt who regarded as some of the best from the continent.
Other countries to take part are Botswana, Tanzania and Namibia.