Queens’ mixed fortunes
Foreign based players to miss, six new faces included
Malawi National Netball Team will be without four foreign-land based players during the PacificAus Series to be held in Gold Coast, Australia, from April 24 to 29.
Netball Association of Malawi (Nam) Tuesday released a 14-member squad comprising six youthful players before the team departs for Australia today.
Blue Eagles Sisters trio of Stella Matelezi, Salomy Nkhoma, Chifuniro Moses, First Choice Tigresses’ Lellie Banda, Florence Gamuka of Shizaella and Kukoma Diamonds’ Shabello Bengo are the new youthful players in the squad.
However, Queens’ foreign legion comprising Melbourne Vixens shooter Mwawi Kumwenda- Mbwana, Joyce Mvula of Central Pulse in New Zealand, Vitality Netball Superleague duo Towera Vinkhumbo of Strathclyde Sirens and Team Bath’s Caroline Mtukule-Ngwira have not been released by their teams.
The development comes after Nam disowned the initial squad list that went viral on social media on Sunday.
Ironically, it is the same squad that has been released.
Nam Vice President Chimwemwe Bakali clarified that the squad has been maintained after the association failed to get clearances for the quartet.
“At that time, we were still working on the squad. If the four players had been released, then the squad could have changed. It is also a blessing in disguise as the coaching panel will have a chance to assess the youthful players that have been included in the squad,” he said.
Meanwhile, two retired netballers have questioned team selection, doubting if the players were selected on merit.
Former Eagles and Civonets player Lizzie Nyirenda said the omission of shooter Alinafe Kamwala of Mafco and the side-lining of Kukoma Diamonds in-form shooter Jessica Mazengera-Sanudi was a recipe for disaster.
“Alinafe, being a tall and experienced shooter, should have been in the squad bearing in mind that our top shooters are not available. Besides that, the squad consists of goal attackers, yet we have a natural shooter. Jessica was not even called for camping which made life easier for other goal attackers. As of now, the performance of Jane Chimaliro and Sindie Simtowe has stagnated because they did not get stiff competition.
“Players that were inactive have been picked by virtue of being affiliated to a certain team. It is good to have youthful players but we cannot throw them into action now because they need time to be groomed properly,” Nyirenda said.
Another former player Neffie Kammata said it is painful to sideline players that have been active and performed incredibly well.
“Let them work hard in Australia to build a good team. However, I hope both Nam and the coaches are aware that decisions will either make or break them. How do you include players that were hardly available for Rainbow Paints games in the South? We have a lot of good players but it seems the authorities have deliberately turned a blind eye on promising talent. Some of those players would have been omitted if they were playing for another team,” she said.
The development comes after the government, through Malawi National Council of Sports, released K100 million for the trip.
Both council’s public relations and communications officer Edgar Ntulumbwa and Bakali confirmed the development.
Queens were drawn in Group A of the Pacific Aus Series and will face minnows Samoa, Fiji and Papua New Guinea.
Malawi intends to use the tournament as part of preparations for the 2023 Netball World Cup slated for Cape Town, South Africa, from July 28 to August 6.
The full squad is as follows:
- Jane Chimaliro-Civonets
- Sindi Simtowe-First Choice Tigresses
- Stella Matelezi-Blue Eagles
- Salomy Nkhoma-Blue Eagles
- Lellie Banda-First Choice Tigresses
- Florence Gamuka- Shizaella
- Shirah Dimba-Kukoma Diamonds
- Takondwa Lwazi-Blue Eagles
- Grace Mwafulirwa-First Choice Tigresses
- Loreen Ngwira-First Choice Tigresses
- Martha Dambo-First Choice Tigresses
- Beauty Basiyao-First Choice Tigresses
13.Shabello Bengo- Kukoma Diamonds
- Chifuniro Moses-Blue Eagles