Inconsistencies in Mwawi Kumwenda’s saga
Controversy continues to surround Malawi national netball team star-shooter Mwawi Kumwenda’s failure to report for the Queen’s camp training on the expected day.
Mwawi reported for the session on October 12 2017, after the commencement of training on October 9 2017, ahead of the Fast5 Netball World Series, which throws off on Saturday in Australia.
This resulted in Netball Association of Malawi (Nam) sending the Australia-based star shooter back home, attracting opposition from various stakeholders who demanded her immediate return.
The Queens’ Head Coach, Sam Kanyenda, withdrew from the squad in protest, saying he needed all his best players for the team to perform well at the tournament.
But a close look at the whole saga reveals several glaring inconsistencies in communication between Nam and Mwawi.
An e-mailed message that we have seen, dated October 5 2017, and sent by Nam General Secretary, Carol Bapu, requested clubs to release players for camp from October 8 2017 with the deadline being October 9.
“Should any player not report for camp without any written document during the stated period, they shall be considered to be not part of the team,” she wrote.
The message was also copied to Mwawi’s Manager, Hlupikire Chalamba, who responded: “Noted with thanks. This is to confirm that Mwawi Kumwenda will be available to join the national team camp on the proposed dates.”
But on October 9, Mwawi, in a phone interview with The Daily Times, said she was in her home district of Mzimba conducting netball clinics, adding that she was not aware of her call-up as Nam did not communicate to her.
The Melbourne Vixens top shooter then said she would only join her teammates at the Blantyre Youth Centre by Thursday of that week.
The Daily Times engaged Chalamba on WhatsApp on October 10, asking her about her commitment to Mwawi’s reporting for training on the proposed dates, and her brief response was a simple: “Yes she will join camp” without necessarily attempting to answer the question which was asked.
Pressed further to commit herself on the actual day of her joining camp, Chalamba responded: “Let me check with her and will revert. I am in a meeting but be assured that she will join the team.”
On the reason for her late reporting, Chalamba said Mwawi had personal issues to attend to, adding that the player was aware of the Queens’ training schedule.
Asked to state why the netballer decided to feign ignorance on the matter, Chalamba said: “Maybe there was communication breakdown but otherwise she is aware.”
By mid-day of the same October 10, Chalamba communicated that Mwawi was on her way to Blantyre.
It remains unclear why she still chose to report for training on a Thursday when she had arrived in Blantyre on a Tuesday.
Chalamba told the last edition of Malawi News that Mwawi had reported for camp training upon her arrival in Blantyre.
But weighed against her WhatsApp statement, where she said Mwawi travelled to Blantyre on October 10 (Tuesday), one is left wondering whether she indeed travelled from Mzimba to Blantyre on the said day or on Thursday, October 12.
In an interview on the morning of Monday, October 9, Kanyenda said Mwawi and defender Caroline Ngwira were due to report for training in the afternoon after excusing themselves.
He confirmed Nam’s deadline of Monday evening when all players were supposed to report for training. When told that Mwawi had said she would report on a Thursday, Kanyenda responded by saying he would leave the matter in the hands of the team manager.
In her WhatsApp chat with Chalamba, Bapu confirmed that Mwawi had told her that she would not manage to report on the proposed dates, contrary to Chalamba’s e-mailed response.
Mwawi did not comply with Nam’s requirement of writing the association in the case of failure to report for training on the proposed dates. But others feel Nam could have found a better way of disciplining Mwawi.
It has been difficult to get clear details on the matter as Nam has not been forthcoming with elaborate information. The government has since slammed Nam for snubbing its request to recall Mwawi.
The Mwawi-Nam saga dates back to the days of former Nam boss Rosy Chinunda when the player was also kicked out of the team for asking the association to sort out players’ outstanding payments.
Local netball administrator, Isaac Chimwala, called on Queens’ players to forget issues surrounding Mwawi’s expulsion from camp and concentrate on bettering last year’s third-place finish at the Fast5 Netball World Series.
“Of course, Mwawi is our team’s mainstay and she makes a very big difference but we must accept that she is not there. Let us find a way of compensating for her absence. May the team utilise the power of ‘we’ to conquer,” Chimwala said.
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