Government takes NAM to task

Minister of Labour, Youth, Sports and Manpower Development Francis Kasaila has demanded a report from Netball Association of Malawi (NAM) on the Queens’ performance at the just-ended Fast5 World Netball Series in Melbourne, Australia.

Kasaila yesterday said government wants answers on why the team performed miserably despite NAM’s assurances that they would do well.

Outplayed: A South African player (R) tries to block Queens’ shot

The Queens, who won bronze at last year’s Fast5, finished at the bottom in the six-nation tournament after losing all their matches.

Kasaila said: “Some are saying it is because they did not prepare well yet before going to Australia, we were assured that they were ready. As government, we need a good explanation because we have had enough of lame excuses for such poor results from sports disciplines and we want this to stop. We want better explanations that can help us find ways of doing better at the next events.”

The minister also took a swipe at individuals that accused him of political interference when he recently called NAM to consider recalling into the squad netball export Mwawi Kumwenda, who was dropped due to late arrival in camp.

“It is sometimes frustrating to note that when we come out to help sort out these issues, some people say we are politicising sports. As public servants, we have the responsibility to ensure we do well in international events,” he said.

NAM refused to heed Kasaila’s advice arguing the players that were available in the team were good enough to bring results.

This prompted Kasaila to warn the local netball governing body not to beg from the ministry for support.

But the minister said government would not be harsh on Queens following NAM’s audacity.

“As a ministry, our interest is on ensuring our national teams do well in sports events. We know sometimes people disagree on certain issues, but it is important to understand and respect each other for the sake of national pride. In sports, there are various punishments that can be meted out offenders and we should make sure such penalties should not put national pride at risk,” he said.

Kasaila’s sentiments come amid calls from local netball lovers for NAM executive to resign for ‘spoiling the good reputation of the Queens’.

Malawi National Council of Sports (MNCS) executive secretary George Jana described the Queens’ results as “disappointing and against national expectation.”

“This serves as a wake-up call for NAM to design and implement programmes [both local and international] that will ensure the players and the team perform better in future competitions. Obviously, we expect a report from the association regarding the team’s performance. The report should be complete with recommendations for the future,” he said.

Sam Kanyenda, who withdrew his services as Queens’ head coach following NAM’s insistence on leaving out Kumwenda,  said yesterday he feels vindicated through the Queens’ results.

Netball analyst Wesley Namasala described the team’s performance as a domino effect of a chaotic scenario that preceded the tournament, adding that the dropping of Mwawi and the consequent pulling out of the head coach had a weighty impact on the side.

He said: “Surely, these issues could have been avoided if NAM had allowed reason to prevail over emotions. The assurances made by NAM that all was well were purely naked lies.

“There were clear signs of disintegration in the squad before the tournament. Last year when we won bronze medal, there was unity of purpose and cohesion in the squad. That is extremely important for success of any team.”

Namasala added that NAM should always remember that they are serving the nation and should not allow their personal issues to clout their decisions.

“NAM must stop meddling in technical panel’s affairs,” he said.

NAM president Khungekile Matiya and general secretary Carol Bapu could not be reached for their comment at press time as they were in transit.

But coach Mary Waya said they had learned alot at the tournament.

“I would say the tournament was a good experience,” Waya told MBC 2.

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