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Fatal, fertile

Covid-19 spikes pregnancies

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WORRIED—Gondwe

The suspension of netball season as a preventative measure against Covid-19 pandemic is threatening the future of the sport in the country as more players from the lower tier league have fallen pregnant.

According to a sample survey which Malawi News and Southern Region Netball Committee jointly conducted, 36 players out of 700 are pregnant, representing 5.1 percentage.

So far, Nsanje is leading with 22 cases while Mulanje is second with 10 cases. Machinga and Neno have registered two cases each whereas Blantyre, Thyolo and Chikwawa are yet to register cases.

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The sample was drawn from the players that competed in the first ever of the Botsalt Southern Region Netball League last year.

Nsanje Netball Committee Chairperson, Hannah Banda, said the situation was getting out of control as most girls were idle.

“At the rate we are going, I fear that players from most teams will fall pregnant. We might have a team or two with almost all players pregnant. The contributing factors are many including idleness and also lack of funds to sustain themselves,” she said.

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Banda said the situation needs to be controlled to enable the Malawi national netball team to remain a force in the world. Queens are currently ranked sixth in the world and second in Africa.

“It is the developmental leagues that act as a feeder to the senior side,” she said.

Her counterpart, Steve Nyadila, echoed similar statements, saying it was difficult to monitor what the players were doing at home.

SRNL General Secretary Charity Gondwe said it was a pathetic situation as the inaugural Botsalt League attracted about 1300 players.

“We are worried as a region. You may have noticed that we have been very keen to promote grassroots netball and such news jeopardises our efforts,” she said.

Gondwe called for support from Non-Governmental Organisations to assist the affected girls.

“We are urging organisations that promote girls to assist in helping these girls get back to school and to netball after they give birth. Such organisations can reach out to us for contacts,” she said.

Netball Association of Malawi (Nam) president Khungekile Matiya was shocked with the details.

“What happened to the interventions which normally happen in such districts? Should we say Covid-19 has paralysed such projects? We need organisations to come up with interventions to halt those cases,” she said.

Sports analyst George Kaudza-Masina was not surprised with the development.

“An idle mind is the workshop of the devil and this is not surprising as these netballers have had nothing to entertain them thus falling victim,” he said.

Kaudza-Masina also accused parents of failing to sensitise their children.

“Much as we might be blaming Covid-19, parents are also to blame for not providing civic education to their children on the dangers of unprotected sex leading to pregnancies. Let parents and the leadership of the teams take this issue head on by being open with the players. Family planning issues should be part of training on the girls. Knowledge might be a powerful weapon to deal with this vice,” he said.

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