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Queens’ hard way to glory

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HARD SURFACE—Malawi players train at BYC under the guidance of coach Peace Chawinga

For many years, the Malawi national netball team has been called the pride of the nation following the teams’ achievements on the international scene.

Yet the side endures a lot of obstacles to fly Malawi’s flag high at major competitions. Currently, national team players get K2000 as daily training allowance and $50 (about K36,000) external allowance. For a win, the Queens get K20,000 game bonus. This is the lowest in Southern Africa.

Recently, Netball Association of Malawi (Nam) officials and some members of the Queens interacted with Minister of Sports Ulemu Msungama during his familiarisation tour.

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Following the discussion, Msungama has promised to look into the welfare of the senior side.

However, as Msungama is concerned with the welfare of the Queens, there is one issue which also needs urgent attention. For many years, Nam officials and Queens’ players have been complaining of lack of a modern in-door court.

The so-called pride of the nation are used to cemented court at Blantyre Youth Centre and Don Bosco in Lilongwe, among others.

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The other alternative private owned in-door facilities have restrictions in terms of capacity in accommodating supporters and expensive hiring cost.

Time is indeed high for the nation to own a multi-complex indoor court with a friendly synthetic surface as opposed to the cemented one.

The hard cemented surface is not recommended and provides nothing but risk to the players. Some netballers have suffered ankle and knee injuries on landing, twisting and turning on the court. Such injuries have even cost some players their careers.

Surprisingly, the authorities do not appreciate the hustle which the Queens go through to earn a better rating on International Netball Federation rankings. Currently, Malawi are ranked sixth in the world and second in Africa.

Sports analyst George Chiusiwa feels netball in general and Queens in particular are victims of promises and lies.

“That there have been many promises from government authorities that Nam is to have a high standard indoor court is unfortunate and disturbing. As a country we ought to have recognised the strides that the country’s netball game has achieved over the years,” he said.

Chiusiwa wants government to support all sporting disciplines equally.

“It is clear that the government has not prioritised netball infrastructure; this has to be revisited. The delays to construct the indoor court are disturbing and worrisome. Government should focus on netball just like it is the case with the football game which relatively enjoys good support from government and the corporate world. It is sad that the successive governments have not been driven by concrete, well thought and viable strategies on sports development particularly on infrastructure for netball,” he said.

However, Chiusiwa challenges Nam to be pro-active and engage the new administration to fund the project.

“It is incumbent upon Nam to concretely and meaningfully engage the new government, through the Malawi National Council of Sports and the Ministry of Youth and Sports on the matter. From the start the new government has demonstrated that it is an engaging and listening government. This is a huge opportunity,” he said.

Nevertheless, Chiusiwa feels Nam can also benefit from the on-going operational review which Malawi National Council of Sports has embarked on.

“That the MNCS is reviewing its operational framework and functions through the development of the new strategic plan also gives Nam another opportunity to consider tabling the issue of the modern court for the action of government,” he said.

Surely, Queens deserve a better place to get inspiration to improve further on INF.

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