The Malawi National Netball Team flies out to South Africa on today, Monday, to participate in a four-nation invitational Diamond Challenge Test with a resolute promise of bringing home gold medal.
National coach Griffin Saenda who has announced his 12-member side on Saturday said he was optimistic his charges would conquer and bring home the inaugural trophy.
The tournament starts on Wednesday, August 15th-18th, at Heartfelt Arena, Thaba Tshwane, Pretoria and has drawn the host South Africa, Malawi, Botswana and Tanzania who will compete in a round robin with the winner walking away with R250 000, about K9.5 million.
“I am optimistic the girls will do well and make our country proud,” the Malawi Queen coach told Nyasa Timeson Monday before the team’s departure, when they were meeting the minister of Youth, Sports and Culture, Enock Chihana at Capital Hill in Lilongwe.
“We are fully geared for the battle beacuse we want to maintain our first slot in Africa,”said Saenda.
The Malawi Queens, Pride of the nation, are ranked first in African and fifth in the world, one step ahead of the host South Africa aka Proteas who are on fifth position.
Saenda,however, appelead to many Malawians based in the rainbow nation to rally behind the Queens.
The 12 players who have made the trip include Mwayi Kumwenda, Sindi Simutowe and Joyce Mvula as goal shooters while Bridget Kumwenda, Beatrice Kadango, Tina Kamuyambeni and Thandi Galeta are centre court attackers.
Defenders include Caroline Ngwira, Towera Vinkhumbo, Grace Mhango, Joana Kachilika and Loraine Ngwira.
All the players participated in the African Netball Championship in Tanzania last May which Malawi defended, except Mwai who missed the continental show due to her club commitments at Peninsula Waves in Australia.
The objective of the tournament is to celebrate the role of women in sports and in particular elevate the profile of netball in South Africa as that country celebrates women’s month.
Meanwhile, the South African government says it is excited with the Challenge, and plans to grow it into a premier netball event on the African continent.
“Netball remains one of the largest sporting codes in the country and it deserves to have a professional league and roar to a stature of the likes of soccer, rugby and cricket,” South African Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula told the media.
The tournament will prepare the Malawi Queens as they prepare for the World Netball Series in New Zealand in November this year which will draw the world’s top six netball nations.
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