Zomba Airwing Sisters on Saturday won the inaugural K8 million Botsalt Southern Region Netball Committee (Sereneco) Under-20 League with a 56-46 triumph over Balaka Admarc in the final match at Blantyre Youth Centre (BYC).
On their way to the regional finals, the eventual champions dismissed favourites Blantyre-based Kukoma Diamonds Youth with a 34-30 victory in the semi-finals while Admarc saw off Lujeri Sisters of Mulanje with a 38-23 triumph.
For their success, Airwing took home K500 000 first prize while Admarc got K300 000 runners-up purse. In a third-place encounter, Diamonds Youth thumped Lujeri 56-14 to earn K200 000 prize. Prior to qualifying for the regional encounters, each of the 12 district champions received K100 000.
“It was not an easy ride and we are happy to have realised our dream of being the inaugural champions. It’s really a wonderful feeling to return home with a trophy,” said Airwing coach Pemphero Mtalika.
Admarc’s shooter Beatrice Maloya emerged as the best player of the tournament while her sister Nyarai Maloya, Mphatso Kaligomba (Nsanje Sena Sisters) and Edda Muhombe (Diamonds Youth) were named best attacker, best defender and best shooter, respectively. Linda Kapanda got the best umpire award.
Sereneco chairperson Judith Chalusa said it is pleasing that the junior league has served its purpose of unearthing and nurturing netball talents.
“At least 2 800 up-and-coming netball players participated in this league and we have created a platform for our elite clubs to tap talent. We thank our sponsors for making this possible,” she said.
Netball Association of Malawi (NAM) president Khungekile Matiya said the tournament, which excluded Rainbow Paints Blantyre and Districts Netball League (BDNL) outfits, is crucial to fulfilling NAM’s objective of promoting netball from the grassroots.
“In fact, we are now working tirelessly to make sure such a youth league is also rolled out in the Central and Northern regions of the country. We need to make this a national event,” she said. Rab Processors marketing manager Anthony Kafuwa, who represented Botswana-based sponsors Netrade, said the Botsalt manufacturers are impressed with how the competition was organised and they will sit down to discuss the possibility of coming back bigger and better next year.