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Nam hopes new government will construct indoor court

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Netball Association of Malawi (Nam) is hopeful that President Lazarus Chakwera’s administration will construct the long awaited indoor netball court.

Despite being one of the world’s top netballing nations, Malawi does not have a purpose- built indoor netball court.

Former president Bingu wa Mutharika was the first to promise construction of what he called a state-of-the-art facility in 2009 when he hosted the Malawi national netball team at Kamuzu Palace in Lilongwe.

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Two presidents who came after him, Joyce Banda and Peter Mutharika, also failed to construct the much-awaited court.

This has resulted into local teams continuing to play their games in the open when they are supposed to be indoors in line with international standards.

Under such conditions, teams find it difficult to continue playing especially when it rains and this has seen matches being abandoned.

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Nam president Khungekile Matiya said they believe Chakwera will help them realise their dream because he is passionate about sports.

“We have known the President as an avid sports follower for many years. He makes a great combination with the Vice President [Saulos Chilima] who also loves sports. With the two leaders in control, we believe that we will have the indoor court.

“We have also gone through the Malawi Congress Party manifesto which embraces sports as one of the tools for development. So we are very confident that the indoor court project will come to pass. The court will help us host other world class teams like Australia, New Zealand, England and Jamaica,” Matiya said.

She said the indoor facility would also help local teams to play games throughout the year without any disturbances.

“We have had cases where games have been stopped because of rains. This should not be the case in this day and age. Netball has transformed into an indoor game and we cannot develop if we continue to play in outdoors facilities.

“Construction of an indoor court will also be good to netball lovers who will get the opportunity to watch international games if we have such a facility. We are calling on all stakeholders to come forward and help in whatever way possible,” Matiya said.

Last year, the government unveiled plans to construct an indoor court at Njamba Freedom Park in Blantyre but successful bidders are yet to be awarded contracts.

The project is expected to face further delays after the government directed that all contracts be verified before being awarded.

Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture spokesperson, Simon Mvundula, said construction of the indoor court was in the hands of the Office of the President and Cabinet.

In the absence of the indoor court, the Queens use Blantyre Youth Centre and Lilongwe’s Don Bosco Courts for international games.

Malawi also used College of Medicine Sports Complex for friendly matches against Sri Lanka last year.

Once completed, the complex will be the first of its kind in the country.

The facility is expected to have netball, basketball and volleyball courts in addition to shops and offices.

In the 2019/2020 national budget, K200 million was set aside for the project’s preliminary works.

Nam’s former sponsors, Rach Family Trust, also promised to construct an indoor netball court estimated at K2 billion.

The trust made the pledge during the signing ceremony of a K600 million sponsorship contract but both deals flopped.

The Queens are slowly regaining their lost glory after reclaiming position six in the game’s global rankings.

Malawi have replaced Uganda, who dropped to seventh. The Queens are second in Africa to South Africa’s Proteas whereas Uganda are third on the continent.

Australia remain the number one team in the world, followed by New Zealand and England.

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