Grace Chingoma, Harare Bureau
First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa yesterday hosted the World Cup-bound senior national netball team at State House where the team went through an interactive, intimate session ahead of its departure for the global tournament to be held in Liverpool, England next month.
The Vitality World Cup will run from July 12 to 21.
The team will be participating at the World Cup for the first time.
It is in the same group with Australia, Sri Lanka and Northern Ireland.
The First Lady, together with some prominent women from different fields of expertise, took time to talk to the girls on a number of issues during a plenary session that was facilitated by social commentator, Dr Rebecca Chisamba.
“I have women from different sectors whom I believe your contributions today (yesterday) will help shape our girls to be responsible women as they go to represent all of us in Liverpool in England. I am urging you all to be free to talk to our girls, encourage them and build them so as to boost their morale,” said the First Lady.
“To you my daughters, the Gems, I say feel free to open your hearts and ask if there are areas you are not sure of and what to do. We are all proud of what you have done, hence our presence here to support you as women. I look forward to an interactive plenary session as we share our thoughts and ideas with our special girls, the Gems.
“I felt that as older women, we need to meet with them to help and guide them along the way. They are our daughters who need our support, our prayers and words of encouragement. I cannot do it alone madzimai, saka ndakudanai neuwandu,” she said.
Amai Mnangagwa was in a jovial mood as she interacted and danced with the national team.
“I am thrilled to be here with all of you women today (yesterday). This is a special day for us as we are gathered because of the success of women. It is indeed true that whenever women succeed, the whole community benefits from the success. Our humble girls, who all along have been giving their best playing netball without many of us noticing them, but today (yesterday) because of their commitment and perseverance we are all with them here celebrating no longer theirs but our success. You are all aware that our national netball team qualified for the World Cup to be held in Liverpool in England. Our girls, the Gems will be going there to compete against the so-called best because they are also best,” said the First Lady.
The netball team received little support at the infancy of their World Cup preparations and although Government has met part of their budget, the team has not been fully supported by other sectors until recently when corporates such as TelOne donated towards the team’s cause.
But the First Lady yesterday said she believes the girl child deserves all the support. She is scheduled to host a farewell dinner for the team on Thursday.
The women’s affair event was attended by Deputy President of the Senate Mabel Chinomona, Ministers of State for Mashonaland East Provincial affairs Apollonia Munzverengi, Monica Mavhunga (Mashonaland Central) and Dr Ellen Gwaradzimba (Manicaland).
Deputy Minister of Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation Yeukai Simbanegavi and the ministry’s director of sport and recreation Eugenia Chidhakwa, also attended.
Church leaders and reverends from denominations such as the United Methodist Church, AFM and ZCC, among others, together with businesswoman Dr Jane Mutasa, Ambassador Mary Mubi, and Member of Parliament Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga, were among other notable women who interacted with the girls in a session full of value as it touched on discipline, social media management, patriotism, hygiene, and good ambassadorship in preparation for the World Cup tour.
The Gems, led by Zimbabwe Netball Association president Leticia Chipandu and her executive, shared their journey as well as some of their challenges.