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Queens off balance

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By Mphatso Malidadi

Malawi National Netball Team might have bossed netball on the continent for ages but their days as a strong force are now numbered.

Of late, Queens have been thriving on the past success of the team.

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Ironically, they got reality check in 2016 when the She-Cranes won the Africa Netball Cup on home soil.

Back then, it was obvious that the Queens were up against South Africa’s Spar Proteas head to head.

The two giants dominated the sport on the continent as they exchanged position one and two.

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Now, South Africa can afford to shy away from continental tournaments in preference for test series against the top-four sides in the world.

In the absence of South Africa, is Uganda now bossing netball on the continent?

Queens have just finished second behind Uganda’s She Cranes in Pent Series.

The performance of the Queens at the ranking tournament has raised concerns ahead of the Africa Netball Cup.

Sports analyst George Kaudza-Masina faults administrators for failing to set up developmental structures.

“The biggest problem with our netball, the Queens in particular, is that there hasn’t been any succession plan in place. The success of any sporting discipline is a vibrant youth policy which is lacking in our netball. For some time now, there hasn’t been a youth league for the under 15, 17 and 20 which are supposed to be feeder leagues to the senior league which produces the Queens itself,” he said.

Masina also called for vibrant regional leagues which produce national netball team players.

“The regional leagues have not been competitive. With such type of leagues, you wouldn’t expect to produce players who can stand the heat at international level with teams like Uganda and South Africa who have well-defined structures and vibrant leagues at all levels. The case is the same with our other opponents who used to be whipping teams but over time they have improved that, though we are still beating them, the margins are becoming smaller each time we meet them,” said the former Football Association of Malawi acting general secretary.

Masina said for the Queens to regain their lost glory and remain a strong force, there is a need to enhance a youth policy.

“At the same time, let Nam [Netball Association of Malawi] engage a full-time coach unlike the case now when we have Peace Chawinga-Kaluwa on part-time. With a full-time coach, it will help in planning and scouting of players to understudy the current crop of players whose bodies are slowly failing them,” he said.

Masina also asked Nam to engage the corporate world and government to introduce district leagues as it was in the 80s and 90s when district sports organisers were available in each district.

“This will help to unearth raw talent which will be a feeder for the regional leagues which in turn will help in coming up with a national league. Let MNCS [Malawi National Council of Sports] and the corporate world accord the same support they have been giving to their football counterparts and the Queens are likely to bounce back from the lost glory,” he said.

Queens will turn their focus to the Africa Netball where Uganda remain favourites to win.

 

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