Zim Gems: Our Modern-Day Heroines
We first heard about the Zim Gems when pictures of their poor living conditions went viral on social media last year. Although we did not know much about the team until then; we rallied with them to get the government to give them better resources as they had just qualified for the world cup this year. The team even had to resort to crowdfunding in order to ensure that they made it to the world cup. A year later they traveled to the UK and delivered a phenomenal performance that left the world in awe.
The most impressive aspect about their story is how they were the newbies at the world cup and yet they managed to finish in the top eight. From their first game, they soundly beat Sri -Lanka 79-49; and sports analysts immediately gained confidence in them predicting the victories that followed. They went on beat experienced teams like Northern Ireland 51-49; allowing them to finish second in their group. Not bad for a team that had been ranked number 14 out of the 16 nations that qualified.
Players like Jani were hailed for ensuring that the gems continued their winning streak when they beat Barbados 66-41. At this point, analysts predicted that the girls would finish in the top six. Although we didn’t go that far; we left an impact on the world and on ourselves. It’s safe to say our presence in the UK; although caused by unfortunate economic conditions; actually, worked to our advantage. Zimbabweans filled up the venues and were by the far the most vibrant fanbase during the world cup. We showed out in our flags, war cries, and the ever-present Zim dancehall. It’s safe to say that we weren’t just celebrating their wins, but we really needed that dose of positivity as Zimbabweans because we haven’t been getting a lot of wins lately. For once hard work and consistency paid off.
What’s next? Well, we hope that now that the government has seen what our girls can do with a little support, they can invest in netball as a sport to ensure that we not only qualify for the next world cup, but we finish off in the top 6 this time.