By John Tuerijama
NAMIBIA’S Under 21 netball side has returned to the country after a dismal showing at the African Under-21 Tournament which served as World Cup qualifiers and despite the fact that finished second last, the team’s manager, Imelda Neronga feels they put up a good fight.
The ladies only managed a single victory out of seven matches but Neronga said they put up a brave fight in their first two matches of the competition in Gaborone, Botswana.
She said the poor performance was partly due to the arrangement of the fixtures. She is of the view that if Namibia had drawn Lesotho before the big guns such as Malawi and Uganda, the morale may have been boosted and good results could have come out of those encounters. Namibia’s only victory was against Lesotho.
“Our Botswana match was one of our best and we actually had a leading score between quarters, however, the trend of giving up in the last quarter got the better of us,” she said.
On the team’s overall performance, Neronga said: “Our players lacked endurance in terms of giving it all when it mattered the most. That means from the beginning of the match to the end, they needed to put their best foot first. If you don’t do well in keeping a good margin between your opponent’s scores you will be punished.”
She has advised the country’s netball leadership to start developing national teams at least two years in advance, by engaging players in local championships and friendly international matches.
“This team, and most of the players, are our potential crop for the senior national team. If Region Five gets organised, we might see the hosting and revival of the U-23 championships which was formerly known as Cosana U-23 tournament. This will allow us to expose the girls more and develop them further,” she said.
Unfortunately, she said, netball, like all other codes, suffers from lack of funding. “We are forced to prepare our teams in two months and we are still required to be inclusive by including players from all regions although no funding is provided to bring these players from the regions. We can’t keep our teams together, as we cannot provide more programmes to keep them active. We want to host championships for all our national teams, have local international friendlies, and engage the national team against regional teams but funding remains a problem.”
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