Exciting times beckon for netball

HARARE - For the newly-formed Rainbow Amateur Netball League (RANL), their aspirations remain to see the empowerment of the girl-child through the sport.

In previous years, netball’s development had regressed largely due to shortage of sponsorship.

RANL, which was formed courtesy of monumental failures by the Zimbabwe Netball Association (Zina) to take the sport to the next level, is now hoping the coming in of Pickglow Trading as their title sponsor will help them realise their ambitious plans.

Pickglow has injected $250 000 in an attempt to lay down foundations for the good old days when netball was one of the most followed sport in the country and the package could be reviewed to an eye-catching $500 000 next season.

But with suspicions running high over the emergency of RANL, whose launch was graced by 20 teams in Bulawayo a fortnight ago, chairperson Melody Garikai has been quick to clear the air while outlining their objectives.

“It is important to make it clear that the constitution does allow us to affiliate as an amateur league so it’s not a parallel structure with Zina. We are of a lesser league and Zina is up there controlling us. We are just an amateur league,” Garikai told the Daily News on Sunday.

“In all this our objective is to empower the girl-child then they can contribute to their families as well as representing their country. We believe if you empower the girl-child, we have empowered the nation.

“Let the girls play, let them also utilise their talents. Let us get them out of the streets, let us get them out of early marriages. We want to teach them life skills through netball. We want to hold workshops during and off-season to empower them.”

Garikai said their aim is to see netball take its rightful position among other popular sports in the country.

Adding that: “What we are trying to do is to complement what our mother body — Zina has been doing over the years. We are not really starting anything new but we are improving on what they have been doing. There is so much to be done in the sport that’s why we are coming in. We want to raise the standard of the sport in the country.

“We are saying Zimbabwe is very big and Zina alone cannot reach everyone. They are trying but they cannot cater for everyone. That’s the reason we are coming in and we are lucky to have a sponsor.

“I am sure you will agree with me that not many people are willing to sponsor the girl-child so we are very lucky to have this sponsor and it is our duty, now keep him and possibly have other stakeholders coming in.

“We have got a dream and we want to leave a legacy. When growing up I remember netball was the second most followed sport especially at school after soccer of course. But along the way it has been relegated to just a minority sport that’s why we want to revive it.

“We want more women to come on board take their claim and help the sport move forward. We have also decentralised, in the past we used to have almost everything happening in Harare but we don’t want that and we are taking the sport to all corners of the country.

Garikai said they have since approached the Sports and Recreational Commission in an attempt to find common ground with Zina, who are refusing to endorse them.     

“You know when something is new people generally view it with suspicion. We haven’t really had the chance to meet and talk with Zina leadership and allay their fears. We can only solve this when we meet. We are not enemies, we are only groups of the same passion,” she said.

“We have since enlisted the help of the SRC because they are the regulators. We went there we explained our position and they also gave us their advice and how should go about it and we have since embraced it.

“It’s a process and not going as fast as we have wanted. We are hoping to meet soon with Zina to map the way forward.”

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