Ellina Mhlanga, Harare Bureau
ZIMBABWE’S women beach volleyball team for the 12th edition of the African Games is looking at surpassing their previous performance at the event when they fight for honours against other participants in Morocco.
The team is made up of Progress Gasa and Nyengeterai Guyo, who said their target is making the quarter-finals at the Games starting this Friday.
“We have been preparing for quite some time. We have been training and I think I am ready. I am hoping that we qualify to the quarter-finals with my partner and improve on our last ranking for the previous African Games that were in 2015. So I am just hoping we surpass that position and go into the top eight.
“It’s quite a priviledge actually to be participating in a tournament that is qualifier for the Olympics, it’s a milestone for us considering we are Zimbabwe and we don’t have an actual beach in Zimbabwe.
“We actually participate in tournaments in South Africa, so it’s a milestone and we will give it all that we have,” Guyo said.
Initially Zimbabwe had hoped to field both men’s and women’s teams but eventually only the women’s team, ranked 15, made the cut after changes to the rules that considered only the top 16 teams instead of the top 24
Zimbabwe’s chef de mission, Eugenia Chidhakwa, said although the men’s team is no longer competing in Morocco, they remain hopeful of the women’s side.
“When we announced the team we had both men and women beach volleyball… In normal circumstances, they are supposed to have the top 24 competing in beach volleyball. But they have changed the rules and said it’s now the top 16.
“Our ladies made it in the top 16 for beach volleyball and our men unfortunately could not make it in the top 16. However, we are still happy that we are going with beach volleyball,” Chidhakwa said.
The team’s coach Vengai Nyaude said being part of Team Zimbabwe to the African Games is a positive development that shows they are making progress as a sport.
“To me it shows we are doing something here in Zimbabwe because we have got more sport codes here in Zimbabwe. So to be chosen to participate in these Games, it shows we are doing something right.
“I think now we are geared up for the event and we are going to play for rankings so that we can qualify for the Olympics.
“It’s our second time at the Games. Our first time, boys finished on position nine and for ladies position 12 out of 24. We are hoping we can improve our position,” said Nyaude.