The Queens off to Australia
The Malawi National Netball Team yesterday left Blantyre for Lilongwe in readiness for today’s departure for the Fast 5 Netball World Series in Melbourne, Australia.
The tournament is scheduled to throw off on Saturday and end on Sunday at HiSense Netball Arena, and the Queens will leave the country this afternoon through Kamuzu International Airport.
They may have been all sorts of stories emanating from their camp as they embarked on a two-week training camp but the squad looked confident to repeat last year’s feat as they left the commercial city for the capital.
The Queens baffled the entire netball fraternity with a third place finish at the 2016 event after trouncing big guns like England, South Africa and Jamaica.
The Queens’ bronze medal finish was the first ever in the history of the competition which started in 2009.
However, there are concerns that the team may not do well this year following the expulsion of star shooter Mwawi Kumwenda from the squad for reporting late for training.
The expulsion triggered the withdrawal of Head Coach, Sam Kanyenda, who told Netball Association of Malawi (Nam) that he would return only if the decision to expel Mwawi was reversed.
Kanyenda’s argument was that the team needed all its top players in Australia, suggesting that Nam could have instituted other disciplinary measures and not expelling her from camp.
But despite other stakeholders, including government, joining calls for Nam to recall the Australia-based top shooter, the association remained unmoved in its resolve.
Queens legend, Mary Waya, who deputised Kanyenda then, took up the role of head coach.
Speaking before departing for Lilongwe, Waya said her charges should not be written off as they are capable of beating last year’s record.
“Of course different factors influence matches but we will try our best to put up a gallant fight. We will play as a unit to achieve our desired goals,” she said.
Similarly, Nam General Secretary, Carol Bapu, said the Queens are capable of repeating last year’s exploits.
“Of course there were issues that dogged the team’s training camp but we encouraged the players to put behind such issues and concentrate on preparing for the tournament.
“We also thank the Malawi National Council of Sports for supporting us all throughout the camp training period. In sports, anything is possible. So we should not be written off,” Bapu said.
New Zealand are the current champions of the competition. The Pacific Ocean island nation have won the tournament a record six times.
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