Zimbabwe's maiden Netball World Cup campaign is under threat because of a lack of financial support.
The ‘Gems’ shocked the netball world with a fairytale run to the global showpiece in the United Kingdom, where they have been lumped into the same group stage pool as defending champions Australia for the July 12-21 tournament.
But despite the enormity of simply qualifying for the event, the world number 13’s have been starved of significant financial aid.
The team currently survives on donations from local churches and businesses, a far cry from the professional build-up Australia’s star Diamonds will enjoy for the Liverpool extravaganza.
Recent photos have emerged depicting the abysmal accommodation players were forced to endure in the lead up to friendly matches against Uganda. With rubbish scattered everywhere and bedding resembling yoga mats, conditions appeared insufficient for professional athletes.
I don’t think that @KirstyCoventry would have won all those Olympic medals if she had prepared as the Zimbabwe Netball Team is being made to prepare for their World Cup Final!— Hopewell Chin'ono (@daddyhope) May 2, 2019
This is how they are sleeping in a church space!
We should be ashamed of ourselves as a country. SAD pic.twitter.com/3j2pbXpv9G
The Zimbabwean Government had promised to fully-fund a preparation camp to Uganda in April. Instead, when no money came through, the Gems were left stranded in Harare, subsequently forcing them to abandon the first two games of the trip.
The Zimbabwe senior netball squad, Zimbabwe Gems leave for Uganda tomorrow on Gvt fully funded friendly matches in preparation for the— Ministry of Information, Publicity & Broadcasting (@InfoMinZW) April 30, 2019
Netball World Cup that will be held from 12-21 July 2019 at the Echo Arena in Liverpool, England. pic.twitter.com/hkWNHhlk7P
Zimbabwean sports minister, Kirsty Coventry recently responded to such criticism, saying on Twitter: “(The Government is) waiting for the federation to send budgets etc, which we have continuously asked for.
“Netball is not the only sport that has these issues so we are working on better structures for greater support.
“I committed my help to their World Cup last year and this hasn't changed.”
Yet, despite apparent pledged assistance, Gems spokesperson Maimba Mapuranga insists “governments here say a lot and do very little.”
The myriad of adversities facing the players has been further propagated with an absence of required training resources.