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Peanuts for the Malawi Queens

For all the expectations that the nation places on them, the sweat they break and the limbs they bruise, Malawi Netball Queens pocket a meagre K1,000 daily training allowance and K20,000 winning game bonus.

It means that at the prevailing exchange rate of US$1=K729, each Queens’ player receives US$1.3 daily training allowance and $27.4 for a win. The team only earns this money when in camp, usually for a maximum of two weeks.

In sharp contrast, each Flames’ player earns K6,000 daily in training allowance, K100,000 game bonus for a win, K50,000 for a draw and no tambala for a loss.

In comparison, the Queens’ opponents at the Fast5 Netball World Series where they finished third, Australia’s Diamonds netballers earn more, according to Australian sports website www. australia.

“Diamonds players are paid US$200 (K145,800) each day they are on national duty. Captain contracted by Netball Australia for $10,000 (K7.3 million) and vice-captain $5, 000 (K3.6 million),” reports the website.

The comparison excludes other variables such as size of economy, gate collections and broadcasting rights which earns domestic football compared to the free domestic netball games.

Netball Association of Malawi (Nam) President, Rosy Chinunda, admitted that the Queens are paid going by government rate, adding that the only exception was during preparations for the Fast5 Netball World Series when the players received K2,000 each for training, courtesy of Airtel Malawi’s sponsorship.

“Government promised to consider increasing the allowances and we are still waiting. We would have loved to make it K40,000 for a win. It is the same thing with the coaches. They are hired on part-time basis. We cannot even begin to compare with what our rivals such as South Africa receive,” Chinunda explained.

The Queens’ Coach, Griffin Saenda, whose caretaker role expired after the Australia event, said with better incentives, the Queens were capable of performing better.

“The issue about poor perks in netball has been talked about for a long time. If people knew how much we receive, they would laugh at us. Now talk is about the achievement of the Queens, but that is all about it. If it were in football, this team could have received a lot of money,” Saenda explained.

The Queens, despite lacking facilities, resources and test matches, stunned netball giants Jamaica, England and South Africa to finish on the third place at the Fast5 competition held over the weekend. Going to Australia, the Queens had not played competitively for 11 months.

Generally, netballers across the world earn less compared to other disciplines, even more with football. But for the Queens, the perks are too low. The Queens’ players refused to grant Malawi News an interview.

Part of the reason for the poor perks is due to the fact that Nam does not generate a tambala whereas Football Association of Malawi (Fam) makes money through gate collections, replica jersey sales and broadcasting rights, among others. Fifa also funds Fam annually.

Even at club level, players such as the Queens’ shooter, Mwawi Kumwenda, should earn more than what she gets in the national team. She recently signed for Australian giants, Melbourne Vixens.

Mwawi’s initial seven-month contract she signed in 2009 with Peninsula Waves in Australia entitled her to US$45, 640 in money services offered plus $100 for each of 22 games she was to play that year, US$5,500 return air ticket, US$12,000 meals and accommodation and US$2,000 for expenses such such as uniform and registration.

Malawi National Council of Sports’ Executive Secretary, George Jana, and Director of Sports, Jameson Ndalama, could not be reached yesterday for their reactions to the poor perks in netball. Before the trip to Australia, the Council said the team would not receive extra budgetary support. Eventually, government said it was not aware of the Queens’ financial struggles, only to be the first to welcome the team on arrival early this week.

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