As Zimbabwe’s U21 women’s hockey team along with the gentlemen’s team all preparing to battle other Africa teams at the U21 Junior Africa Cup in Egypt.
My Afrika Magazine sports journalist, Tapiwanashe Rubaya (TR) had a conversation with Jorja Jones (JJ) who will be part of those who will be leading the team as the captain this month of March in Egypt.
In an exclusive interview with Jorja Jones she informs us about the preparations that they have made as a team so far and what it means for them as a team to participate in the tournament.
TR: Can you introduce yourself to our readers by telling us more about your bio?
JJ: Hello, my name is Jorja Jones. I was part of the U21 Zimbabwe Ladies team who went to the World Cup in March 2022 and am now in the U21 Zimbabwe Ladies team who will be travelling to the Junior Africa Cup in Egypt in March 2023. I am a sports scholarship student studying Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation at the University of Kent whilst playing for their First Team Hockey and a Canterbury Club team.
TR: Can you tell us when did you started playing hockey and how was it during your early days?
JJ: I started playing hockey at junior school and have had a passion for it from the beginning. By then all our hockey was being played on grass whereas now all my games are on astro turf.
TR: Who is your role model?
JJ: My role model is Luna Fokke from the Netherlands, a talented mid fielder and it was an amazing to play against her at the Junior World Cup.
TR: You will be representing the country during the U21 in Egypt, what is your take of the upcoming tournament?
JJ: It is monumental achievement for Zimbabwe Hockey to be represented at the Junior Africa Cup by both a Mens and a Ladies side as our last participation in this event was in March 2016. I am extremely privileged to be representing my country at this international upcoming event and we will be flying the Zimbabwean flag high as we take to the turf.
TR: When you were announced as part of the team and in addition the team captain of the nation what did it mean to you?
JJ: The feeling to be selected for your country and then as the captain is such an honour especially amongst such a talented group of ladies who I am proud to call my team mates.
TR: Comparing to national and international hockey, what should we do as a country to improve our hockey sports so that we can return to the golden days of the countrys’ hockey team?
JJ: We need financial support to host and attend more tournaments with neighbouring countries like South Africa, Namibia, and Zambia from our junior levels all the way through to our senior teams. This will give us more exposure and prepare us better for international tournaments.
TR: Back to the U21 team going to Egypt, what is your take of the team structure?
JJ: The team has been working incredibly hard training for the last five months. There are five of us from the previous U21 World Cup team, so we are taking that experience through, with some younger players from our U18 and U16 age group last year also coming onto both the initial squad and final team selections. It has been wonderful to see the commitment and passion from all our players most of whom are juggling work and school commitments amidst our intensive training schedules.
TR: What has been your greatest moment since you embarked on your journey as a hockey player?
JJ: My greatest moment in my hockey career was when we played Canada and won at our first match at the U21 Junior World Cup in Potchefstroom 2022, I stopped a drag flick from going into the goal from a short (penalty) corner.
TR: Laslty, what type of support do you as a team need from the country and what words do you have to team Zimbabwe?
JJ: We as a team still require financial support from corporates or individuals to get us to the Junior Africa Cup. The players are endeavouring to raise portions of the required amounts themselves with raffles, go fund me pages and a variety of other fundraisers, but we still have not met our targeted amount. To our Zimbabwean teams both the ladies and the men we have trained to get ourselves to this point. We need to believe in ourselves as individuals and as a team. Take our passion and love for our country and the sport onto the field. In the words of Herb Brooks – “You were born to be a player. You were meant to be here. This moment is yours.”