Ladies hockey team breaks jinx

HARARE - Zimbabwe Under-21 Women team on Saturday qualified for the Women’s Junior Hockey World Cup set for Santiago, Chile breaking a 11-year jinx since their last involvement at the global stage.

The last time the local junior ladies team participated at a World Cup was in 2005 at the games ironically hosted in Santiago.

Zimbabwe beat Namibia 2-1 in the semi-finals to seal a final berth and automatically qualifying for the World Cup after South Africa who had earlier booked the first final place on a 100 percent winning record.

The team had earlier lost 3-1 to Namibia in the group stages before making a spirited comeback in the semi-finals to dismiss the hosts.

Zimbabwe captain Stephanie Campbell scored the winner deep into second half after Kelly Ziplock had given the locals the lead before Namibia ensured that the scores were level at 1-1 going into the halftime break.

The local ladies, still basking in the qualification glory were, however, clobbered 10-0 by South African in the final to exit the tournament with a silver medal on Sunday.

On the other hand, the men’s team beat hosts Namibia 5-3 to win bronze at the same championships.

Hockey Association of Zimbabwe (Haz) president Humphrey Chigwedere paid tribute to the junior women for their triumph.

“We are very excited by this qualification as it means a lot to Zimbabwean hockey. It was tough right from the start but we always believed in the ladies,” Chigwedere told the Daily News yesterday.

“It’s been trying times for us at Haz because we get little recognition ahead of other sports. We have limited resources and just imagine the players have to play to play for the nation.

“It’s not fair but I’m glad that Haz and the teams decided to go for it on a shoe string budget.”

“We didn’t have the resources, so to get there, everyone had to raise airfares and accommodation.

“So, going forward, we will engage the  Sports minister and see how our ladies can prepare and go to Chile.”

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