The Sunday News
Mehluli Sibanda, Senior Sports Reporter
ECONET Wireless and Cassava Smartech Zimbabwe have sponsored the Zimbabwe National Netball team, affectionately known as the ‘Gems’, with a package worth over half a million dollars ahead of the team’s participation at the Netball World Cup in Liverpool, United Kingdom.
A cash contribution of $222 500 came from Econet while Cassava weighed in with $200 000. Further to the monetary support, the two companies also provided the team with branded match kit, including uniforms, tracksuits, sneakers, shoes and travel bags.
Cassava’s subsidiary, Vaya Africa, will also be providing transportation for the Gems to and from their training sessions, to and from the airport prior to and immediately after the tournament. In addition, Econet is also making SMS broadcasts seeking further donations for the Gems ahead of the World Cup.
In his opening remarks at the handover luncheon in Harare on Wednesday, Econet chief operating officer, Fayaz King the Econet Group was excited to sponsor the Gems and joined them and the nation in celebrating a first for a Zimbabwean team to compete at a World Cup in a major team sport.
“We are excited to extend this support, whose value is over $500 000, to the Gems, and would like to congratulate them for making it to the World Cup in what I believe is a first for a Zimbabwean team,” King said.
He said the Group had reached “deep into our hearts and into our pockets” to ensure that the key needs of the Gems were met in order for them to focus on training and competing at the World Cup without any worries.
“When we became aware of the team’s struggles and of their plight, we said this would not happen on our watch, not when we are here and can do something.”
King said he believed the contribution, from which Econet Wireless, Cassava and Higherlife Foundation pooled resources together, will play a huge part in making the Gems’ training, their trip and their stay in the UK a lot more comfortable.
“We will be watching closely and will render whatever support that we can,” he said.
Speaking at the same event, the Zimbabwe Netball Association president, Leticia Chipandu thanked Econet and Cassava, whom she said had showed a “big heart” in supporting the team.
“I want to thank Econet and Cassava for this support, which will transform the lives of the girls, some of whom are bread winners in their families. You have very a very big heart because a lot of people saw the video (where the Gems narrated their plight on social media) and a lot of people heard about the girls, but they were not moved,” said Chipandu.
“I want to thank Econet and Cassava for coming on board to support these girls in making their dreams and their goals achievable,” she added.
The Gems have been drawn against Australia, Sri Lanka and Northern Ireland in the first round of the World Cup in which gets on 11 July.