Two stories are making the rounds in Malawi.The first one is about Jessie Kabwila, a university lecturer turned politician who is now the opposition Malawi Congress Party (MCP) Secretary General (SG). The former Chancellor College English lecturer is under fire for calling people living with HIV and Aids corpses. Health NGOs and people living with HIV and Aids want her to resign both as a Member of Parliament and SG of MCP. She has put her foot down, “I am not resigning”.
The second story is about Mwai Kumwenda, a professional netballer who plies her trade in New Zealand.
You can follow up the first story yourselvesand enjoy the outcome but it is the second story that we will devote our time to.
Malawi netball team, (The Queens) is in England for a two match international netball series this December. The Queens lost 36-68 in their first match at copper Box in London on Wednesday 17th December 2014 and will face off England again on Saturday at University Arena, Worcester. Mwai Kumwenda is not in England with the Queens.
Nyasa times of 6th December described the Netball Association of Malawi (NAM) as “arrogant”, “Arrogant [NAM] has left out some vastly experienced players including New Zealand based Mwai Kumwenda in a 12 member squad scheduled to go into camp [Saturday] in readiness for a  match test series against England”.
The love between the Netball Association of Malawi (NAM) and Mwai has drastically fallen out for failure to resolve key problems. Top on the agenda is that Mwai has accused NAM of failing to pay the players allowances. Without doubt a very serious accusation indeed. Corruption!
This is how the Wikipedia describes Mwai Kumwenda: a Malawian netball player who plays for the Malawi national netball team, the Malawi Queens, and the ANZ Championship franchise, the Canterbury Tactix.
Kumwenda made a name for herself in world netball after winning the Player of the Tournament award at the2010 World Netball Series. She played in the 2011 Netball World Championships, where Malawi finished sixth. She also played in the 2011 World Netball Series where during a game against Australia she and Waya scored three consecutive 4 pointers in the last quarter to snatch a historic draw.
She played in the 2012 Fast5 Netball World Series in Auckland, where she put in several outstanding performances, which resulted in her becoming a fan favourite, and vaulted her in Championship consideration. Malawi finished in 5th place, but were able to beat silver medallists England during the round robin stage.
She currently plays for the Peninsula Waves in the Victorian Netball League, in Australia, where she was named player of the tournament.
In the 2014 ANZ Championship Season, Kumwenda burst onto the international scene. Amassing more goals than any other shooter in the competition and shooting above 90% on a very regular basis, she won the ANZ Championship’s Best New Talent award, along with a slew of awards from her club, the Canterbury Tactix. She has signed with them again for the 2015 Season and remains as one of their greatest assets.
Kumwenda also competed for Malawi at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, in which her vast improvement from more competitive play in New Zealand helped her team to many highs. Losing to New Zealand 50-47, they recorded the closest result ever against the country and one of their best performances in Netball history. In addition to this, one sided matches against St Lucia, Scotland and Northern Island in which she scored many goals showcased Malawi’s improved attacking prowess. Despite their 31 goal loss to Jamaica 81-50, Mwai showcased further development in that not only did she score a large number of goals but also played Goal Keeper for a time in the 4th Quarter, in which her aerial ability allowed her to get some deflections against the giant Jhaniele Fowler-Reid. Malawi beat South Africa to claim 5th place in the tournament.
As shown above, this is the calibre of a player Rose Chinunda, Caro Bapu and Mary Waya (The head coach) think they can do without.
This “arrogant” executive is now paying the price. The team is not playing well, there is no proper coordination and passes are being misplaced. They literally cannot place the ball in the basket. We all saw this during the England match at Copper Box in London on Wednesday. As usual, they will use the sports language of, “we are building a new team”.
We, the Timau Crew believe that it is important that coaches build positive relationships, which can act as the glue that cements their players to the cause and binds them together as a team. Such positive relationships (for example with Mwai) create resonance- an environment where players feel their feelings are being taken care of (paying them their allowances)-as distinct from dissonance, a feeling of not being cared for (not paying them their allowances)
Players (The Queens included) would describe a coach who creates resonance asupbeat, warm, caring andapproachable. A good listener and genuinely interested in the players. Players do not like arrogant officials.
Having backed Mwai throughout, we also find her a pain in the ass. She is what she is because these officials she is calling “arrogant” spotted her and moulded her into a player for the world to set its eyes on.
NyasaTimes quotes Mwai Kumwenda as having made these remarks, “Where am I supposed to meet them? Do they have an office? What do they want us to discuss, I thought I wrote them a letter? Anyway I cannot say anything in absence of an official letter”…………..by all means this is open defiance of authority,total insubordination. and deserves a punishment.
As a professional netballer, Mwai should showcase exemplary behaviour; she should act as a role model for the upcoming players not teaching them haughtiness.
Will the MCP Secretary General resign? We leave it to your own imagination.
As Jessie Kabwila is trying to find an amicable solution with people living with HIV and Aids, NAM and Mwai Kumwenda should quickly resolve their differences for the good of the game.
Between the two, NAM and Mwai, we ask Mwai Kumwenda to swallow her pride and engage in dialogue with her bosses. She is not doing it for Mary Waya, Caro Bapu or Rose Chinunda. Mwai should realise that she is doing everything for “mother Malawi”
We, the Timau Crew, want to see NAM connecting with the players, getting to the real pulse of the team, and releasing a powerful collective emotional energy. This very often is the edge that allows teams to survive the bad times and go on to remarkable achievements.
Lastly, we, the Timau crew and Nyasa Times wish The Queens all the best as they face off England in the 2 test match on Saturday.