For the good of the glamour that the Malawi national Netball team exudes on the international stage, it’s good news to hear that the Netball Association of Malawi (Nam) has acted professionally by recalling Mwawi Kumwenda to the squad after she was dropped from the team that travelled to Australia for the 2017 Fast5 tournament.
She was dropped for reporting late into camp without prior communication that she was going to be delayed so that she might be considered.
Considering that Mwawi is a full professional player, being trained by experienced coaches in Australia where she is exposed to state-of-the-art training facilities, the Queens coaching panel — as well as Nam — should have been sympathetic ear to her reasons of being late if they were genuine.
By being silent, it gave room to many speculation and Nam had to mete out the punishment to set an example that no one is indispensable.
Hopefully, Nam did not act this way if there hadn’t been a furore over the decision of dropping her especially after the Queens performed awfully at the Fast5 tournament.
The Queens have now been invited by England for three Test Series from November 24. Like I have said before, Test Series are taken very seriously by the world netball giants like Australia, New Zealand, England, Jamaica and even other notable teams like Wales, India and South Africa.
They are used to strengthen themselves ahead of major tournaments and in this case England are preparing for the 2018 Commonwealth Games.
I have said it before that if the Queens, who only participate in major tournaments, were to constantly play in Test Series against these world netball giants, they would have studied how to beat these teams they always fail to do.
But Nam cannot invite such teams to Malawi for Test Series because it does not have the funds for it and on top of that we do not have the proper arenas for host such teams.
We must find — and I have said it many times and shall only rein myself in if some of the proposals are taken aboard — means to expose the Queens further than what is available for them on the ground.
If we had very strong squads all the time, we would not have been so bitter when Mwawi was dropped and the Queens performed badly in her absence. If the Queens had come back very successfully from the Fast5 in the absence of Mwawi, Nam would have been vindicated that discipline is of essence.
Let’s create the right stage for netball. The powers that be, construct proper arenas for netball so that the sport can attract more players of Mwawi’s stature.
Meanwhile, can’t the powers that be try thi suggestion that comes from yours truly — that in the absence of the proper venues to host teams Test Series against the world netball giants, perhaps Nam should be accorded the opportunity to play Test Series in the giants’ own countries and at Malawi’s expense. In that way, the Queens can earn more respect for innovation and zeal to be part of the world netball family so that they in turn can be considering to invite Malawi for their own Test Series.
It can be agreed with such countries that if they accept such an arrangement that the Queens play host to a Test Series in their own country, they could negotiate a claim to revenue from the entry tickets to cover for some of the expenses.
Mind you, entry tickets to watch high profile netball games in Australia, New Zealand, England, Jamaica, Wales and South Africa do not come cheap and for the games between England and the Queens this month tickets are at 20 pounds an individual, 60 pounds for groups of four and 150 pounds for VIP courtside tickets.
Nam can perhaps negotiate with these countries that they are the hosts but to be played in their opponents’ venues. Malawi can meet the costs of preparations in those countries and ask that they benefit from the revenue from tickets to cover on costs.
It may sound outrageous, but hey, why not try it?
These Test Series, in which a country invites their preferred opponents for a three-game tournament, which are sanctioned by the world netball governing body might seem just like friendlies but they are more than just a friendly match because the results from such matches earn points used for world rankings.
On top of that, the countries assess each other’s strengths and weaknesses, which can be used for their advantage in the major tournaments.
South Africa plays Test Series with these world netball giants. Once in a while, South Africa invites Malawi for such Test Series just like what England has done. In the absence of an invitation, the Queens remain idle and for obvious reasons — we cannot invite the world top teams to come here for Test Series because we do not have the right infrastructure to host such games.
Otherwise, don’t assume that since Mwawi is back to the squad then it will be all plain sailing against England in those three Test Series.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :