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Netball players cry for Covid-19 relief packages

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FEELING SORRY—Waya-Chongwe

Some local netballers have questioned the necessity of having a Covid-19 task force when it cannot set interventions to cushion the impact of the pandemic on the sport.

Some well-known players from top teams, who did not want to be mentioned for fear of repercussions, felt the task force was clueless having failed to outline plans and recommendations despite being in office since June 2.

Other netballers did not shy away but openly expressed their anger saying they were being segregated as they were not entitled to Covid-19 relief package from FDH Bank which targets 30 national team players.

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The players feel their role is not appreciated despite helping in the establishment of a strong national team through their involvement in the sport.

Serenity Stars attacker, Phalys Mkama, said Netball Association of Malawi’s (Nam) task force for Covid-19 was supposed to find solutions to help players from the elite leagues across the country.

“It is a bitter pill to swallow as it takes all of us to make netball happen. Surprisingly, it is only Queens players that have access to Covid-19 relief package. It is not a bad idea to support the Queens but the role of some of us should also be appreciated. Maybe the association through its task force was supposed to court other partners to support all players from the elite leagues in the country. If it is happening in football, why not netball?” asked the former member of Malawi under-20 side that won silver medal during 2012 Region Five Games [formerly Zone VI Youth Games].

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Another player, Linda Kaponda of Chilomoni Sisters, said the task force had no idea on what it was supposed to do.

“We can’t have netball by only helping Queens players. We also need some players, other teams, umpires and officials. Do you think netball games can take place by only having Queens players? Let’s say the season commences, can we have netball games without other players, officials and umpires? So they need to support all of us,” said the player who also doubles as an umpire.

Another player, speaking in a condition of anonymity, said they were worried that developmental players were being ignored.

“I think it is important to consider junior players as well. For one to develop you have to gone through the youth structures. So if we are to have a strong national team we also need the junior players to be entitled to Covid-19 relief funds. Imagine Malawi under-21 Queens will participate in World Cup next year but the players haven’t been considered for support. I think it’s not fair to consider Queens players only when all of us have a role to play,” she said.

However, Nam task force chairperson, Jane Kachali-Saidi, said they were working behind the scenes to help all players.

“We are requesting stakeholders well-wishers to assist us with Covid-19 relief packages whether financially or materially to help other players countrywide,” she said.

Kachali-Saidi, who is also Nam’s treasurer, said they were targeting 102 teams of 25 players per side.

She said due to increase in Covid-19 cases they were yet to decide on when the season should throw-off.

“If games resume, Covid-19 precautionary measures will be taken into account and that includes wearing face mask, hand washing, social distancing and disinfecting netball courts,” Kachali-Saidi said.

Former Queens captain Emmie Waya-Chongwe sympathised with Nam saying the government should also intervene.

“We understand that Football Association of Malawi (Fam) is using Fifa resources to help players and officials. Since netball is poorly funded I guess it is time for the government to intervene. After all it is the Queens that brings smile to the nation which means netball needs support,” she said.

Ministry of Sports spokesperson, Simon Mbvundula, said the issue could not be handled by this ministry as Covid-19 was a case of national disaster.

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