Blue Eagles Netball Club surprise their coach Kanyenda as he retires from Malawi Police Service

As he retires from the Malawi Police Service (MPS), Assistant Commissioner of Police, Samuel Qabaniso Kanyenda has also to relinquish his post as coach of Blue Eagles Netball Club, but he does not leave the netball fraternity in which he serves as technical director.

Kanyenda, who dedicated his passion for the game with Blue Eagles since 1986, was pleasantly surprised when the Police-sponsored team honoured him with two farewell parties — the other netball bonanza, ‘Sam Kanyenda Shield’ that was held last Sunday.

Kanyenda (right) with sponsor of the farewell netball bonanza Isaac Chimwala

This, he says, is an honour he takes with him, saying the team will always be in his heart and he will forever be indebted to the club whose excellent performance propelled him as its coach to mentor the Queens and later become Netball Association of Malawi (NAM) technical director.

“The girls and their officials gave me a gift of a deep freezer — something that I did not expect and will cherish forever as it was a gift of love,” he said in an interview.

“I will continue serving netball in my capacity as NAM technical director that will also keep me closer to Blue Eagles as I play my part to get Malawi netball where it wishes to be.

“I am retiring from the Police and now I have more time to be dedicated to netball duties. The role of technical director is the right place for me.

“I want to make a positive impact on netball in Malawi and on the world stage. It will take time but it will be done because failure is not an option.

“I know where Malawi netball is and I know how we can take where we all wish it to be because we have many dedicated people who passionately love this game and wish it well.”

Kanyenda says he joined the Police Service on December 12, 1986 but he started coaching Blue Eagles from April 1985 before joining the Service.

He was inspired by late Chritopher Chisi and Reuben Luhanga to join netball coaching and umpiring.

“I was staying with them and we almost moved everywhere together. I met them at Lilongwe Community Centre where I played and coached badminton and they started training me to netball umpiring and coaching.

“I just fell in love with the game. Later I attended a coaching course in 1984, which was done by Malawi’s most revered netball coach, late Griffin Zagallo Saenda. From then on, there was no looking back — I was hooked.”

As his passion was being recognized, Kanyenda went on to be accorded several chances to upgrade into a international netball coaching qualifications that include Level 2 netball coaching certificate obtained at the University of Bath in the UK — courtesy of International Federation of Netball Association.

“I also have Level 2 coach/tutor certificate and Level 2 performance management certificate, obtained at the same University of Bath. I also have a certificate in sports business management from University of Pretoria.”

He has also had lower coaching certificates through a team from Wales and other courses were in the Republic of South Africa, Botswana, Zambia and Tanzania.

“The trainings in African countries were facilitated by experts from outside Africa as it was found to be more convenient and less costly for most African coaches to convene in one country to train many from one location.”

The Queens national team coaches he has worked with include another revered mentor, Edith Kaliati whom he was her assistant coach before he also assisted Griffin Saenda — graduating from being the Under-21 head coach.

He says his most memorable moments as coach were when the Queens came 3rd at the Fast 5 Games and when they played South Africa in Australia as part of the Commonwealth Heads of Governments summit.

“At the Commonwealth summit, New Zealand played Australia and we played South Africa. It was one of the biggest win margin against our rivals.

“Two months before that, we had played RSA in Test Series and we lost two games won one. It felt like a sweet revenge — I still remember captain Caroline Mtukule telling the South Africa captain 5 minutes before end of the game ‘siphelire’ (game over!)”.

Kanyenda joined the Malawi Police Service as a constable and officially retired on June 1, 2021 and he says highlights as a police officer was when he was posted at Lingadzi Police Station from 1995 to 1998, which earned him an honour to serve In a peacekeeping mission in Liberia from 2004 to 2006.

“I also did enjoy my role as the officer in charge for the Police Buildings branch from which I have retired as Assistant Commissioner.”

He has now left the mantle as coach for Blue Eagles on Madano Thepeteya, a former skillful basketballer, whom Kanyenda has groomed him and has the confidence that he will do wonders, with his assistant Cecilia Mtukule.

Thepeteya played a part in organising the farewell netball bonanza, which got the attention of aspirant candidate for NAM presidency, Isaac Chimwala — who decided to add pomp by sponsoring K100,000 towards the event.

Chimwala said he decided to be part of the farewell bonanza and initially pledged K50,000 as prize money for the winning junior team as his passion is on youth development.

“But then they responded to ask if they could use those funds for other logistics towards the success hosting of the bonanza and I added a further K50,000 but asked them to identify one outstanding youth player whom I will award with K15,000.”

This award was given to 16-year-old Chimwemwe Chigunde — a wing defender (WD) from Area 30 Under-20 player.

Chimwala paid tribute to Kanyenda, saying he has played huge part in the development of the game as well as making Blue Eagles one of the outstanding teams that contribute to the Queens.

“He has made some strides in as far as being NAM technical director and I am very glad that he is leaving behind him Blue Eagles but not from the netball fraternity altogether,” said Chimwala, whose one of the key areas if elected as NAM president is to commercialize the game.

He also pledges to undertake talent identification and set grassroot netball development through youth programs such as under-12, 15 and 21.

He also pledges to enhance capacity building for technical teams as well as administrative staff; working with other stakeholders to improve on sports facilities and to “incentivize the player and introduction of player contracts”.

He also pledges to provide medical insurance for players; to introduce financial literacy courses for players and ensure that player selection into the national team follows a well structured process that recognizes skills and talent.

He is an engineer by profession holding a Bachelor of Science degree in electrical engineering from the Malawi Polytechnic, now known as Malawi University of Business and Applied Sciences in Blantyre (MUBAS).

He also a Professional Certificate in Marketing from the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM), United Kingdom and has studied Business Sport Management with the University of Pretoria, South Africa and an Advanced Certificate in Business Sport Management.

He joined the netball fraternity in 2003, while working as senior sales officer for ESCOM, which needed to promote a new product, Namagetsi, whose aim was to increase electricity accessibility.

The marketing team settled for netball as the vehicle with which to achieve this goal and settled to own and sponsor an in-house netball team and that saw the birth of netball team ESCOM Sisters, which was later named Namagetsi.

Chimwala then became its official as sponsor to protect Escom’s interest from there he has been actively involved in netball administration.

He has since served as vice-chairperson for Blantyre and District Netball League for two successive terms and later became chairperson of Diamonds after ESCOM pulled out its sponsorship.

It was during his tenure of office that Diamonds exported Malawi’s first netball player, Mwawi Kumwenda to Australia.

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