Two senior players Jessica Mazengera-Sanudi and Bridget Kumwenda that have been left out of the 25-member Malawi National Netball Team squad have welcomed their exclusion despite a social media outcry.
The Kukoma Diamonds pair has been overlooked after Queens coach Peace Chawinga-Kaluwa opted for 15 developmental players ahead of the team’s camping for the 2023 Netball World Cup finals.
Mazengera-Sanudi, who was last season’s top goal-scorer in Rainbow Paints Blantyre and Districts Netball League with 725 baskets, said life has to go on.
“I was equally surprised with my omission but I accepted it. A lot of people have voiced out their concerns but it has nothing to do with me. It began during the Cosana Tri-Nation tournament, where I wasn’t given much game time despite impressing.
“As a sportswoman, I know that these things happen. I am glad I come from a sports family and we always encourage each other with my husband [Swadick Sanudi-former Flames goalkeeper and trainer]. I just wish the team well. I will continue working hard for my club and if my services will be needed at the national team I will always be available,” Mazengera-Sanudi, who got her first call-up in 2011, said.
The versatile attacker said she could have asked for forgiveness if she had deliberately crossed the coach’s path.
“Honestly, I take this as a purely netball matter and I believe in being fair and objective. If the decision to axe me is on merit then it is fine. If I had wronged the coach knowingly, I would have gone and apologised to her. As for me, there is nothing personal,” Mazengera-Sanudi, who plays as goal-attacker or goal-shooter, said.
Her counterpart, Kumwenda, said she was not angry with the decision.
“I don’t have to talk much as my words might be interpreted otherwise. However, I wish the team well,” Kumwenda, who plays as centre or wing attacker, said.
Netball analyst Neffie Kam’mata said the selection of the squad left a lot to be desired.
“Leaving out Jessica Sanudi, who is the top goal shooter of the vibrant Rainbow Paints League and a very good goal attacker, saying she is old, is quite baffling because we have several attackers that are older than her.
“The coach has also picked some players from her team, yet they are inactive and not ripe for the senior side. We might have experienced players like Carol [Mtukule-Ngwira], Towera [Vinkhumbo-Nyirenda], Joyce [Mvula-Nyirenda] and Mwawi [Kumwenda-Mbwana] but we will not do well with this kind of attitude,” she said.
Chawinga-Kaluwa told Times Sport on Tuesday that they had to include developmental players to create depth for the side.
“The selection of the players follows recent trials where we created a pathway to the national team. We created reservoirs for the team by having feeder teams like under-19 and under-23.
“The selection started at district level, whereby the cream was recommended for regional trials. The best were then considered for national trials, where we identified players for various national teams,” she told this publication.
The 2023 Netball World Cup will take place in Cape Town, South Africa, from July 28 to August 6.
The Queens were drawn in Pool B with England, Scotland and Barbados.