Malawi netball Queens, once an irresistible force that charmed with an unorthodox play on the global stage, have uncharacteristically been sidelined from a newly-formed international alliance involving the world’s top-five nations.
The partnership called Sanzea involves Malawi’s rivals, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand and England netball teams, which have joined forces with an aim of organising more games outside the World Cup and the Commonwealth Games.
To throw-off the alliance, New Zealand will host a four-nation tournament this year followed by South Africa and England next year. Sanzea is derived from the the four nations’ names, Sky Sports website reports.
Nam general secretary, Carol Bapu, was equally puzzled to learn through the press about the competition, whose format, dates and venues will be released later. International Netball Federation has supported Sanzea.
“We don’t have any idea why they have left out some of the top netball nations. This issue was never discussed at any international netball forum,” Bapu said during the week.
The world’s sixth-ranked Queens have been shunned months after surrendering Africa’s number one position to the world’s fifth-placed, South Africa’s Spar Proteas. Malawi’s fall from grace seems to have led to the exclusion.
Netball South Africa chief executive officer, Blanche De La Guerre, told Malawi News in an interview from Johannesburg that New Zealand hatched the partnership idea, hence could explain why Malawi was left out.
A source in New Zealand said the Queens were ignored because they do not play regularly in test matches, adding “it is not about selecting, but about how much involved one is in international games.”
England Netball chief executive, Joanna Adams, told Sky Sports that the partnership offers netball an opportunity to grow its stature on the global sporting stage.
“It is a tremendous step towards building the depth of the game internationally and to showcase netball at the highest level on a regular basis,” Adam is quoted saying, about the tournament which will be reviewed after two years for possible inclusion of more members.