After Malawi national netball team’s excellent performance at the World Fast 5 Series in Melbourne, Australia, Member of Parliament for Dedza East Juliana Lunguzi posted on the Facebook profile hinting that she would like to move a private member Bill that special funding should be set aside to be invested in the development of Malawi netball.
She received overwhelming positive response and several people offered their own suggestions to be included in that Bill, such as giving a certain percentage of tax exemption to the corporate companies that would be willing to sponsor netball or other sports while others proposed that including a fuel levy for sports.
Others intimated that netball should get equal share as that given to football because netball is Malawi’s niche — the strong selling point that can be used to market the tourism industry.
This move by Hon. Lunguzi is feasible. Our sports development needs some political will and the lawmakers should positively support this Bill.
Just like what the lawmakers do by engaging with the public and some members of the diplomatic corps through football as a social event to relax after exhausting time of Parliamentary debates, the same can be done through netball in order to strongly support Lunguzi’s Bill.
Countries like Australia, New Zealand and England, have introduced Beach Netball, which also targets tourism since it is played mostly at holiday resorts. It is fast becoming very popular and the corporate world in these countries supports it.
This format of netball can be introduced in Malawi — first as in support for Lunguzi’s Bill and second to add some potential for tourism just like what Lake of Stars and Sand Music Festivals target.
If the lawmakers can organise such an event, coupled with the support from the corporate world and that from the diplomatic corps, they can engage a social activity with the Queens to play some beach netball on one free weekend.
Beach netball is played by both men and women. Men’s netball category was introduced here in Malawi when Netball Association of Malawi (Nam) hosted the Confederation of Southern Africa Netball Associations (Cosana) tournament several years back.
A few manageable teams can be organised in which one shall have two players from the Queens and the others could be MPs and the diplomats. It can also attract some broadcasting rights to be sourced through display of advertising billboards from interested corporate companies. The revenue from it can go to that special fund for netball development.
The beach netball idea can bring forth another dimension to netball and tourism. It can become an attractive measure for Malawi because the Queens have made the country known throughout the netball world.
Tourists would be attracted to visit Malawi’s national beach netball tournaments, making Malawi synonymous with the glamour of netball just like Brazil is with football, India with cricket, the United States with basketball and baseball and Australia, New Zealand with rugby.
It is always the pride of any nation to play host to major tournaments. It is also part of selling the country’s tourism potential. Malawi used to host a major football tournament through the East and Central Africa Senior Challenge as well as the Club Championship when the Football Association of Malawi (Fam) was an affiliate member of the Confederation of East and Central Africa Football Association (Cecafa).
Malawi made a name of itself in football through the Cecafa tournament, which they won three times — 1978 at home, 1979 in Kenya and 1988 also at home. But Malawi can no longer host any major football tournament because of lack of proper infrastructure. Fam was able to host the Cecafa tournament using Kamuzu Stadium in Blantyre and the Civo Stadium in Lilongwe when these two facilities were in excellent condition but not any more now.
Kamuzu and Civo stadia, including others such as the Silver Stadium, Mzuzu Stadium, Zomba Community Centre, BAT Ground, MDC Stadium, Chiwembe, Kalulu, need serious rehabilitation for them to be used to host, at least, the Cosafa Cup. To win the right to host the Caf Africa Cup of Nations is a tall order on its own.
The same is with netball. Nam has hosted the Cosana tournament and the African Championship using Blantyre Youth Centre and the indoor facility at College of Medicine.
But these facilities are not conducive for modern netball and soon the world netball governing body might decide to bar Malawi from hosting these two events.
South Africa has excellent facilities like those found in New Zealand, England, Jamaica and elsewhere. Some of the Cosana members have some modest modern facilities. South Africa do come here grudgingly for the Cosana or the African Championship because they are forced to. But understandably, they would refuse to come here for Test Series. We, therefore, wait until South Africa or the other top teams invite the Queens — and at their expense — to visit them for the Test Series.
For the Queens to become world giants like Australia, New Zealand, England and Jamaica, they need to be playing constantly against these top teams in Test Series and this is where the country needs to consider constructing proper netball arenas to attract the world giants to accept to come and play here.
Such facilities will have other amenities such as training courts surrounding them and shopping malls alongside them to attract more patrons as well as generate some revenue for the maintenance of the netball arena. They can also play host to other sports disciplines such as boxing, basketball, indoor football and other high profile functions.
The proceeds from entry tickets and hiring fees would go towards further netball development. Such facilities should be considered for all three regions with one region being targeted to host a major tournament involving many teams with a provision to consider other regions in the future.
Let’s support Hon. Lunguzi on this proposal for the formulation of a comprehensive strategy for the suitable development of the sport of netball.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :