Balaka Admarc Sisters are the 2021 Boltsalt U-23 Southern Region netball champions after thrashing Chipea Creepers of Zomba 62-34 on Sunday in the final match of the competition’s two-day regional finals at Blantyre Youth Centre (BYC).
The regional qualifiers commenced in May and had 10 teams each from 14 districts taking part, had 15 teams taking part in the finals at BYC who were paired into five groups — Chiradzulu, Mwanza, Mulanje in Group A; Nsanje, Balaka, Zomba (Group B); Thyolo, Mangochi, Phalombe (Group C) and Chikhwawa, Neno, Blantyre Rural in Group D.
Both finalists Balaka and Zomba were in same Group B in which Balaka first beat Nsanje 36-6 and Zomba 27-18 while Zomba beat Zomba 37-3 Nsanje to qualify for the quarterfinals where Balaka saw off Mwanza by 36-13 with Zomba beating Mulanje 30-14.
In the semifinals; Zomba beat Blantyre Rural by a narrow 28-24 while Phalombe lost to Balaka by a difference of 8 baskets at 30-22.
Phalombe went on to claim the Third Place play-off by beating Phalombe Blantyre Rural 23-18.
It was an exciting competition in which Balaka Admarc Sisters displayed great performance from the group stages up to the final which attracted many netball followers patronizing the games from Saturday to Sunday.
The Balaka Sisters were consistent in terms of their playing style which made Chipea Creepers to be second on the ball and struggle to create chances.
Speaking after the final, Balaka Sisters’ head coach, Mildrade Chihana said she was very proud of her players for their tenacity that saw them clinching the league title, saying they never expected it having known before that it was going to be a very tough competition.
“The competitive edge of the tournament started way back during district level qualifiers, where every team was fighting hard in order to become champions and qualify to display their skills here.
“So we anticipated the same competitive spirit for this finals and we prepared so well and the girls were up to the task from what we mentored them tactically and spiritually.
“I just thank my girls for their fighting spirit. This league title will really motivate them to be more focused on their netball careers because they’re all young players and I’m very sure the majority of them will realize their dreams one day of playing for big teams in Malawi or even abroad.
“We are going back to prepare very well so that we should defend the title next year,” Chihana said.
Her counterpart Peace Chawinga-Kalua, a legendary former player of the national team, the Queens, said she was happy to have reached into the final because their main target was to finish in top four.
“I was using players whose average age is 16 years and that they were playing for such a big competition for the first time,” she said.
“To us finishing as runners-up is a big achievement because we are building a team for future. These young girls have a lifespan of playing together in this U-23 competition for about 8 years — so I know for sure that within this period we’ll have a good team which shall pose a huge challenge to beat.”
In her remarks, Southern Region Netball Committee general secretary, Charity Gondwe described this season as a success taking cognizance that every team was very strong — “which is a big sign that their district leagues are very competitive”.
Before the finals, Gondwe noted that for the first time since the competition was launched in 2019, it has now managed to produce 5 players who have been drafted into U-20 Malawi national netball team.
“Honestly, we’ve made a good achievement in this year’s season and as a committee we are very much proud because the main purpose of this competition is to unearth hidden talent,” Gondwe said on Sunday.
Gondwe further thanked Netrade and Rab Processors companies for introducing the Botsalt league, saying through the competition, talent identification is made simple to the coaches because the league is being considered as a nursery where future players are given opportunity to showcase their talent.
“This year’s league has been fantastic in as far as performance is concerned and no wonder for the first time we’ve managed to produce five players who have joined the U-20 Malawi national netball team side and we expected to have more players in next year,” Gondwe said.
The Under-20 national team are expected to go into camp very soon to start preparing for this year’s Netball Regional 5 competition scheduled to take place in Lesotho.
In his remarks, Netball Association of Malawi (NAM) vice-president Chimwemwe Bakali applauded Southern Region League for managing the competition in a professional manner for it to be a successful one.
Bakali also commended the sponsors for showing commitment because through their support, young girls who are passionate about netball are given platform to display their talent.
He said NAM always keeps a record data update for every player who participate in the Botsalt League to be monitored for future consideration into national teams.
“This Botsalt league is real sign that we have talent in Malawi and we are very impressed with this league,” Bakali. “Let me take this opportunity to urge other well-wishers to come in and introduce other competitions in other regions so that we can promote netball in our country as you know this is the only sport that puts Malawi on the map.”
Rab Processors Marketing Officer, Julio Naelo said they are happy with how the league is being managed and that 2021 league has improved lot in both business wise as well as on talent side compared to how it was in its first season in 2019.
“Honestly, we are very much encouraged and we promise to come bigger and better next year as you know that we signed a 3-year contract with Southern Region League,” Naelo said.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :