The end of golden era in netball?


The Malawi national netball team, the Queens, heavy  loss to New Zealand in a warm up match for the Commonwealth Games was the 11th consecutive defeat, the longest run of losses for the nation’s  beloved international soap-opera sports team.

But if I said I was surprised with the run of bad results, I would be cheating myself and you dear readers. The truth is that it’s been long time coming. Perhaps the best way to put it is that this is the beginning of the end of a golden era.

This squad has outlived its lifespan and usefulness. Age has caught up with most of the squad players. Majority have married and are now mothers with one or more children. Now don’t misconstrue my statement to mean it is wrong for our netballers to get married and have children. No!

All am saying is that these developments are taking a toll on a squad that is already advanced in years. We should not expect them to do well. Serena Williams who has returned to the sport after giving birth, was knocked out of the Miami Open in the first round early this week because she is not the same.

So, my point is that it is time for Netball Association of Malawi (NAM) to start grooming a new crop of players to take over from the old generation. The Presidential Sports Initiative for netball is run in all districts. Why not make a deliberate move to scout for players. And look for players with good height and stamina. We need new blood in the netball otherwise Malawi will lose its sixth ranking and slip down into oblivion.

Transition is not an easy thing. In football we have seen how difficult it has been to build another tangible team after the golden generation of Manfred Hoenor’s dream Under 20 squad. But it’s always good to accept the truth earlier and start rebuilding so that there is a good mixture of youth and experience in the good that the youth can learn something from the old players. But we can’t be relying on the same pair of defenders Towera Vinkhumbo and Carol Mtukule 15 years later and expect to win matches. Impossible.

Meanwhile I would like to wish the Flames good luck in Uganda for their friendly match. Ugandan Cranes are on the rise and will give RVG’s team a good test of their mettle as they prepare for the Cosafa tournament in May.

To European football now. Being a Fifa week, some mouth-watering clashes already took place yesterday on Friday. But on Tuesday fans can watch Germany v Brazil, England v Italy, Spain v Argentina, Nigeria v Serbia among some of the best fixtures.

Locally I will be in Lilongwe at Silver Stadium to watch Bullets versus Silver Strikers. Of course, I am a Nomads fan although they changed my beloved blue colours. But the match has been organised by Media Institute of Southern Africa  (Misa), Malawi chapter, to fundraise for the body’s permanent premises. It is for this cause that I will be there in solidarity with other scribes.

I am also wishing all the best to the Southern Region chapter of Sports Adiministrators and Journalists (SAJ) who are participating in this year’s national football tournament in Mangochi. n

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