Volleyball league softens disciplinary punishment on Lilongwe’s Mipuniro Spikers 

Central Region Volleyball League (CRVL), which suspended Mipuniro Spikers and their respective executive committee members from all volleyball activities for a period of six months, effective 1 May, 2019, have softened the punishment where it is allowing the team to play strength-testing matches ahead of their preparations for the Zambia Volleyball Association (ZAVA) Open.

The boycott against Kamuzu Barracks
Mipuniro in action
Mipuniro Spikers

According to a statement from CRVL signed by its general secretary, Tarsizio Chikaonda, the committee took into consideration the promotion of the sport and promoting sportsmanship, and the fact that the suspension given to Mipuniro was not in any way done out of ill intentions but enforcement of the CRVL regulations.

“The league committee would like to inform all stakeholders that Mipuniro team took an initiative to engage CRVL on a number of issues including clarifications regarding the suspension terms.

“This was done through a letter to the Committee which was followed by a meeting between the two entities that took place on 11 May, 2019 at Crossroads Hotel in Lilongwe. Subsequently, the CRVL Committee met on Tuesday, 14 May 2019 at C2K in Area 47, Sector 2, Lilongwe, considered requests and discussed the issues raised by Mipuniro team and the committee considered the request from Mipuniro to be allowed to play friendly games in preparation for the ZAVA tournament.

“It is in this spirit that the Committee has decided to waive the condition of the suspension which banned Mipuniro from taking part in any volleyball activity, to allow the team to play friendly games in preparation for the ZAVA tournament.

“This waiver is only applicable to the ZAVA tournament preparations and nothing more. Please take note that the engagement between Mipuniro and CRVL is being done in the spirit of sportsmanship and promoting cordial relationship and existence among all stakeholders.

“The CRVL Committee is therefore requesting all clubs, teams and players to embrace this spirit and support such initiatives in order to promote the sport,” says CRVL in the statement.

It also adds that Mipuniro team committee members acting in other capacities in clubs and teams other than Mipuniro and/or as active players in other teams, such members are free to execute their roles in other clubs and teams other than Mipuniro.

“The judgement was specifically in their capacities and role at Mipuniro team,” says CRVL.

Mipuniro Spikers team manager Musatero Nkhozi said they are very ready to travel to this tournament and showcase their volleyball talent and have since assembled a very good squad.

“The ZAVA tournament is open to any team that can foot their own travel and accommodation costs. Financially, we are usually driven by each other but we have a strong bond with external financiers who come to our rescue when any need arises. This gives us a lot of confidence in such moments.

On how Spikers get such recognition from ZAVA, Nkhozi said it started when a team from Chipata, Zambia, the Taliban Forces, came to Malawi with their basketball colleagues to play Bravehearts at African Bible College (ABC).

“The team got beaten 3-0 and when they travelled back to Chipata, they spread our good volleyball skills throughout Zambia. This caught the attention of ZAVA to invite us for this yearly event. We are so humbled by this gesture.

“This will be our first time as a team to play volleyball outside the borders of Malawi. Of course, this is just the beginning of such trips to mostly other neighboring countries.”

On the local scene, Mipuniro are arguably, one of the best team as underlined by league and tournament rankings in the past three years.

“A number of individual awards won by our players in various tournaments is another reason enough to understand that Mipuniro is the best team on the land. So we are very ready to participate in this tournament. Of course just like in any other tournament, we are the favorites to win Gold. We are always a team to watch.”

Nkhozi said the team was initially formed by ex-college students as a pastime initiative, to beat boredom of inactiveness soon after leaving corridors of the colleges.

“That has now changed, we have taken a new approach by including a women side. We have a strong base of ladies waiting on the wings to put pen to paper once a ladies side is registered. We take pride in the way we attract membership from athletes willing to join us at youth, senior or ladies categories.”

The administrative structure the team has Nkhozi as team manager, Deodata Kamoto as chairperson, Ananias Mfuni as general secretary, Lilian Msonthi as treasurer, Paul Simba as coach, Trust Mtegha as deputy coach, Horace Kwengwere as captain whose deputy is Hlahla Pedro’s Kwenda.

It rolled off as a team as a group of undergraduate University and College volleyball players particularly University of Malawi — Polytechnic, Chancellor College, Bunda and Kamuzu College of Nursing (KCN).

Then in 2015, it got registered to play inCRVL and from then never looked back. However, CRVL punished the team, together with Lilongwe Spikers, after the two teams’ continued boycott of their scheduled match fixtures involving Kamuzu Barracks (KB) men’s senior team, contrary to the judgement and verdict passed on the case involving the soldiers.

Mipuniro and Lilongwe Spikers were boycotting the matches against KB because of what happened during the closing ceremony of the 2017 Sempha League at Kamudzi Eco-learning Centre when their players were beaten by three KB players in full view of everyone.

According to CRVL verdict signed by general secretary Chikaonda, Mipuniro and Lilongwe Spikers did not meet the requirements of the verdict and punishment but continued with an act which was contrary, and in addition disregarding an opportunity for an appeal that was provided for in the judgement if the teams were not satisfied with the verdict and judgement.

“The Committee also noted with concern that the two teams disrespected the CRVL Constitution by disregarding the verdict and judgement which was based on the provisions of the Constitution, and undermined the authority of the CRVL Committee by openly defying the verdict and judgement.

“The CRVL Committee observed that the passing of a suspended sentence was an act of extending goodwill which unfortunately was not appreciated by the two teams. It also noted that despite the opportunity for an appeal if not satisfied with the verdict and judgement, the two teams chose to ignore the provision and went on to cause abandonment of the games.

“Mipuniro produced a document openly stating that despite the ruling, the team will not honor the rescheduled matches. The Committee noted with regret that these acts were contrary to the constitution and regulations of the CRVL, and expected conduct of clubs, teams, and players in the spirit of sportsmanship.

“The Committee notes with concern the trend developing in the CRVL of acting with impunity by clubs and teams. The CRVL operations and management are guided by its Constitution and Regulations, which are enforced by a Committee duly elected at an AGM.

“It is a plea from the Committee to clubs and teams to respect the Constitution and Regulations, and operate within the framework of these documents,” said the verdict.

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