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Our Queens, our pride

Malawi netball Queens are back from the Netball World Cup in Australia where they broke a record, but once again a dream for a top four finish proved elusive.

Four wins, three defeats, a record score and player-of-the-tournament in Mwawi Kumwenda is what the continent’s number two team and the world’s sixth best, brought home on Tuesday.

Not too bad a showing bad when you begin to throw in comparisons with other unrepentant under-achievers such as the Flames—call it comparing unlike things, but it is true anyway that the Queens strive to bring more smiles than heartache to the nation.

Going to the World Cup after two straight defeats at the hands of South Africa during a regional Diamond Netball Challenge Series and with it a drop on the rankings from number one in Africa and fifth in the world, the Queens had set their sights on something better.

And such expectations, though unrealistic looking at the meagre investment in the team and the domestic sport, were brightened by the return of the brightest Queen, Kumwenda.

Though joining late in camp after what seemed an endless impasse with the Netball Association of Malawi (Nam), the New Zealand star shooter’s impact was so instant.

The Queens were, for the first time since 2013, able to beat South Africa by a healthy eight-goal margin in the World Cup’s preliminary round.

Suddenly, the possibilities of bulldozing past the giants such as New Zealand, Australia, England and Jamaica looked bright. But, what eventually happened after sailing past the preliminary round in Pool E, was a familiar story of so near, yet so far.

First New Zeal and humbled the Queens into submission, then Jamaica escaped from the Queens’ grasp by a single basket win. And when South Africa denied the Queens a fifth place, the reaction was mixed back home.

The story could have been different if Nam had resolved its squabbles with Kumwenda, not interfered in coach Peace Chawinga-Kaluwa’s squad selection and if the Queens had camped in time and played test matches against the very same giants they hoped to beat.

Over and above that, domestic netball lacks infrastructure and sufficient investment at the grassroots to enable an endless flow of talent to take over from the current generation.

Pity, the nation wants to reap where it did no sow. Politicians use the Queens to generate publicity, but truth is government has done little to invest in netball, let alone come up with policies to ensure the private sector invests in the sport.

Can you imagine the Central Region Netball League has been without sponsorship for four years? Add all that to Nam’s administrative handcaps, then you can understand why many insist the Queens punched above their weight in Australia.

Que ens in pi c ture s and numbers

Malawi 58- South Africa 51

Malawi 101 Sri Lanka 18

Malawi 75 Singapore 31

Malawi 62 Jamaica 63

New Zealand 57 Malawi 49

Malawi 71 Wales 52

Malawi 46 South Africa 46

W o r l d C u p f i n a l placings

  1. Australia
  2. New Zealand
  3. England
  4. Jamaica
  5. South Africa
  6. Malawi
  7. Wales
  8. Uganda
  9. Trinidad and Tobago
  10. Samoa
  11. Fiji
  12. Scotland
  13. Barbados
  14. Zambia
  15. Singapore
  16. Sri Lanka
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