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By Jess Anderson
They impressed audiences and with their charm – memorably dance their way to the BBC’s television policy they charmed them off it.
Zimbabwe’s Gems went – but at one point it was not certain they would be able to compete in Liverpool. They trained without facilities or equipment and lacked the financial funds they wanted to produce the trip.
But contend that they failed – .
So, having established themselves on the world platform, what will the future hold for netball in Zimbabwe?
A few of Zimbabwe’s players had not even played on a proper netball court, before the World Cup began.
Goal shot Joice Takaidza, who now lives in Australia, says the centers within her homeland are”the worst to train “.
“At college we play sand and if you finish enjoying the dust will soon be in your neck,” she tells BBC World Service’s Sportshour program.
“From the Premier League we perform on concrete grounds, which are extremely hard and very dangerous also because they damage your knees”
Funding is the main problem – as is the case in many sports that are Zimbabwean.
As government minister Kirsty Coventry, an Olympic swimming gold medallist in 2004 and 2008, clarifies:”two weeks prior to the tournament, the Zimbabwe Netball Association had not increased the money that they had needed to.
“We supplied a great deal of support to allow them to be present.”
Funding appeals increased only #250 – a fall in the ocean for the likes of England and Australia – however, it made a difference that was significant to Zimbabwe.
However the issues did not stop there.
When the team finally arrived in the UK, head trainer Lloyd Makunde needed to venture into Liverpool and spend # 30 of his money on equipment including balls and cones.
“We faced many challenges,” says Makunde.
“We watched teams like Australia, New Zealand, Jamaica when they had been heating up, and we really didn’t have the gear when we had been performing the practice.”
Victories over netball countries such as Northern Ireland, Barbados and Sri Lanka at the World Cup showed the possibility for further victory.
But where will the support they want come from?
England goalkeeper Geva Mentor is among those trying to help.
Mentor has assembled kit and equipment to send to established netball nations since viewing the disparity between teams at the 2015 World Cup in Sydney.
“The gift is there,” she says. “It’s just trying to tap into this and be sure they understand what they’ve got and they’ve got the support around them for each of these girls to be able to thrive.
“Some of the most difficult pieces is actually finding folks on the floor to distribute the kit and put it out into the rural communities in which people really need it”
Coventry – the ministry for youth, sport arts and recreation – acknowledges the Zimbabwean government has to put”different constructions” set up in sport, but says that there are bigger priorities within the nation.
“We’re going through a tough time and there are items inside the country, within the economy, like medicines for individuals, like schooling for individuals… and game isn’t up in that region at right now.
“So for me to sit here and we would really like to build netball courts and football fields and swimming… it is completely unrealistic and I’d be letting down thousands and hundreds down.”
Coventry is currently looking to collaborate with sport associations and partnerships to drive an improvement in facilities.
“I believe the athletes are demonstrating that we have enormous talent and that’s not going off,” she says.
“So it is all up to us to enter place the different structures which will enable for sports to be professional.”