The Zimbabwe Under-21 women’s hockey team will have to wait longer before realising their dream of representing the country on the global stage after the postponement of the Women’s Junior World Cup scheduled for South Africa early next month.
The International Hockey Federation (FIH) recently decided to put on hold the Women’s Junior World Cup following the outbreak of a new coronavirus variant in South Africa. The ninth edition of the biennial tournament was scheduled to start on December 5.
Following the outbreak of a new coronavirus variant in South Africa, the FIH, @SA_Hockey and the North-West University of Potchefstroom have jointly decided that the FIH Hockey Women’s Junior World Cup 2021, initially planned in Potchefstroom from 5 to 16 Dec has been put on hold
— International Hockey Federation (@FIH_Hockey) November 26, 2021
Zimbabwe was among the 16 nations that were scheduled to feature in the global tournament.
In a release, the FIH said that the decision to cancel the women’s under-21 world championship was taken jointly after consultations with the South African Hockey Association and the North-West University of Potchefstroom.
“The safety of everyone involved in the FIH events is an absolute priority. Additionally, many countries, including some of the participating teams, have now strongly increased their travel restrictions with South Africa, including halting flights. Therefore, it simply isn’t possible to maintain this event as planned. This is hugely disappointing,” FIH CEO Thierry Weil said.
Stating the importance of holding junior tournaments, the Frenchman added: “An FIH Junior World Cup is so important for the development of young players. Also, it was the first time that an FIH World Cup was due to take place on African soil. On behalf of FIH, I’d like to thank all teams for their understanding as well as the local organisers for their great work and collaboration”.
The abrupt suspension of the event came as a shock to Zimbabwean players who were earmarked to leave for South Africa this week ahead of the tournament., where they were drawn in Pool A along with the Netherlands, Korea Republic and Ireland.
The team took to social media to express their disappointment at the abrupt postponement of the global youth tournament. “To say that our hearts were absolutely shattered when we received this news two days before we were due to leave for the World Cup is an understatement. Our team was so ready for this! So we now have to pick ourselves up, brush off the disappointment and continue to work for our dream. Training harder, faster and longer so that all this work does not go to waste- we’ll never give up! Thank you for your amazing support…we’ll be more than ready to face the World when it’s time to play,” the team management said in a statement on their Facebook page.