Makunde shines in Australian Netball Championships

ZIMBABWE netball team star Nalani Makunde

ZIMBABWE netball team star Nalani Makunde picked up where she left off at the 2023 Netball World Cup after topping the goal shooting charts in the Australian Netball Championships which concluded at Morayfield Sports and Events Centre, Queensland last Sunday.

Born and bred in Australia, Makunde made her debut for Zimbabwe against Australia at the World Cup in Cape Town in July and August.

Makunde, who has a Zimbabwean father and an Australian mother, emerged the sixth best shooter at the World Cup with 218 goals despite the Gems finishing 13th at the global showpiece.

The netball player also recorded the highest individual score of the World Cup shooting 57/59 in the 13th/14th placing match against Barbados, walking away with a player of the match accolade.

It was the fifth instance of a player scoring 50 goals or more in a match at the World Cup.

In the Australian championships, Makunde managed 227 goals at 94.2% shooting accuracy although her Canberra-based side Capital Darters finished 10th out of the 11 teams that took part in the competition.

 “What an amazing 6 weeks it has been for Step Out 7’s Nalani Makunde who represented Zimbabwe at her 1st World Cup and then followed that achievement up by topping the shooters table at the Australian Netball Champs with 227 goals at 94.2%,” Makunde’s management company Step Out 7 took to social media to celebrate her latest achievement.

Capital Darters lost 75 – 61 in the 9th and 10th place playoff to Tasmania on the final day of the event while Territory Storm finished last.

Collingwood Magpies won the 2023 Australian Netball Championships, claiming the trophy with a two-goal win over the QBE Swifts Academy after the match finished 57 – 55 in their favour.

Makunde also represents Brisbane South Wildcats in the Hart Sapphire Series in Queensland.

The 24-year-old accidentally started playing netball at her school but has since grown and is now representing the country of her birth on a global stage.

“I played a lot of sports at school just for fun and it kind of grew from that. The ACT coach used to say ‘you should come and trial for the State team,’ so I did and somehow I made the team and from there on I have been playing,” Makunde revealed during the World Cup.

“Until the 2019 World Cup and seeing that Zim had a team, I hadn’t considered it or hadn’t really thought about it. I never really thought I was good enough to play in the World Cup before that, until last year when I really started thinking that maybe this is a possibility.

“Looking into it and figuring out it could happen. I’m from Australia and to play in the World Cup in Australia you have to be a professional player in Super Netball. Those players are super competitive and so good. So, you don’t really think of yourself in the same space,” she explains.

Makunde, who plays in the HCF State League for Canberra Netball Association, was named the 2021 Most Valuable Player (MVP) in the Netball ACT’s premier competition.

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