The Airtel Money Netball Tournament was launched at district level in spectacular fashion on Saturday at Mangochi Community Centre ground.
Airtel Malawi zonal business manager Dan Kamanga said the launch was a continuation of a three-year journey the firm embarked on with the Netball Association of Malawi (NAM) a fortnight ago when they launched the K360 million (about $900 000) netball sponsorship.
“Airtel realises that netball has the ability to connect and empower communities through the passion it elicits from the fans and the ability of players to learn and make a living from the sport.
“Airtel is focused on initiatives that create positive impact and empower youth and communities from the grassroots to a national level,” said Kamanga.
He said it is with this in mind that Airtel conceptualised a unique netball property across the districts in Malawi that would support talent and provide a platform to gain netball skills for girls and women to become stars on the domestic scene and beyond the borders.
“Looking at the future, this humble beginning we are launching today at district level, dubbed Airtel Money District Netball League, is an ambitious netball talent scouting programme that will focus on identifying and nurturing budding talent from the grassroots onto the national stage,” said Kamanga.
NAM vice-president Chimwemwe Kachingwe said the proposed prize money for the champions at district level is K200 000 (about $500) while runners-up will get K100 000 (about $250) with losing semi-finalists getting K50 000 each.
Kachingwe said NAM chose Mangochi to host the district tournament launch because it is doing well in the game.
“I urge as many teams as possible to register in the tournament at district level so that the objective of the tournament can be achieved. Let us also make Airtel our network and also register with Airtel Money so that the marriage can be successful,” said Kachingwe.
A representative of the district commissioner, Ernest Kadzokoya, thanked Airtel for the sponsorship, saying netball has put the country on the map; hence the need to support it.
But Kadzokoya had a word of caution for the administrators: “Let us safeguard this sponsorship so that we continue enjoying the fruits brought about by Airtel. To match officials, let us try to take a firm line to avoid squabbles that can affect the tournament.”
Apart from netball officials, the launch was graced by celebrated former Malawi Queens star Judith Chalusa.
In a launch game played earlier on, Marine of Monkey Bay beat Mangochi Police 9-6.