Sports

Gems captain itching for debut appearance at Surrey Storm

NEW KID ON THE BLOCK… Zimbabwe senior netball team captain Felisitus Kwangwa (left) enjoys the company of Leah Middleton, her teammate at her new English Super League club Surrey Storm, ahead of her debut appearance for the club when they take on Strathclyde Sirens at the Netball’s Rise Again Festival in Manchester, England, this afternoon.

Ellina Mhlanga
Sports Reporter
IT’S more than a year since the senior netball team gave the nation something to smile about with their appearance at the Vitality Netball World Cup last year and again it is from this team that another positive story for the year is coming from following Felisitus Kwangwa’s move to the Vitality Netball Super League in England.

The Gems captain, now turning out for Surrey Storm, became the first player from a local league to break into the Vitality Netball Super League, which is one of the top leagues in the world.

And today she is set to feature is a pre-season tournament for the club when they face Strathclyde Sirens at the Netball’s Rise Again Festival in Manchester, England.

“Of course we are going to play one game but I don’t know exactly what to expect so I just hope that I will be able to play well if I get the chance of course to be on the court.

“So, yes, I am so excited that tomorrow (today) I will be playing wearing a dress for Surrey Storm unlike the last game, we were wearing training kits.

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“It’s more of a tournament that’s what I can say. It will be my first time to be playing for Surrey in the proper kit and more official rather than the game we played on Tuesday,” Kwangwa said yesterday.

The event will feature six of the best netball teams in UK, including Loughborough Lightning, Leeds Rhinos, Surrey Storm, Strathclyde Sirens, Manchester Thunder and Saracens Mavericks.

In an interview with the club’s media, Kwangwa shared how she has been settling down at Surrey Storm and the goals for the season.

“I am very excited and everything is fine. Thank God I am here, I managed to go through the quarantine period which was quite frustrating but I thank God everything went well.

“I am enjoying every moment here. The girls are so loving and caring, so it’s like I am in Zimbabwe… Like Zimbabwe in England.

“The most (important) thing that I want is just to lift the Vitality Super League title with Surrey Storm. That’s what I want,” said Kwangwa.

Her presence in the Vitality Netball Super League has been something exciting for the nation and she has had some enquiries from Zimbabweans-based in the UK wanting to attend the club’s matches just to watch one of their own in action.

“Everyone can’t wait to watch us in action and they have been asking if the fans are allowed. And I said currently, I think the situation doesn’t allow that but they have promised just to rally behind us whilst in the comfort of their homes,” said Kwangwa.

Interestingly, she will be playing along some of the players she competed against at the World Cup. Among them is Northern Ireland’s Emma Magee, who also joined Surrey Storm for the upcoming season.

The Zimbabwean goal defender, nicknamed “Minister of Defence” for her heroics on the court, caught the eye of Surrey Storm during the last year’s Netball World Cup in Liverpool, England.

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She led on deflections and was sixth in interceptions as well as centre pass takes and it was that outstanding performance that saw Mikki Austin, the Surrey Storm coach, making a move to tie down the player.

Asked about her playing style, Kwangwa said she usually prefers studying the play.

“I am that defender who just studies the play. I don’t do a lot of man-to-man marking but I look more on like the space, like zonal defence, I don’t know what to call it exactly but mostly that’s what I do.

“But when it requires for me to go man-to-man marking, I normally do that. So I just make sure that the goal-shooter or the goal defender doesn’t just get the ball quite easily so either way anyone who is in the goal circle I make sure that I try to cut every ball which is meant to be supplied to them,” said Kwangwa.

It may have been a largely challenging and disappointing year where some dreams were shuttered and some had to be put on hold but it’s not all gloomy as there is something positive to talk about in Kwangwa’s historic move to Surrey Storm.

It is such inspiring stories that always gives one hope even in difficult times.

HERALD