Queens coach Peace Chawinga-Kalua has torn into Netball Association of Malawi (NAM), accusing it of interfering in the selection of the final squad for the World Cup.
The team is today scheduled to leave for Sydney, Australia, but as at noon yesterday, NAM was yet to name the final squad due to the misunderstanding that arose between the coach and the netball governing body.
Chawinga-Kalua also claimed in an interview yesterday morning that NAM already submitted the list of 12 players to the International Netball Federation (INF) even before the Queens regrouped for preparations.
“When we had just started training, my assistant [Mary Waya] asked me if I was aware that the squad for the World Cup had already been sent to which I replied that I wasn’t. I confronted the NAM general secretary [Carol Bapu] on the issue, but she insisted that there was nothing of that sort.
“But I later discovered that the issue was indeed true and that it was a well-orchestrated plan whereby NAM were using some members of my backroom staff to advance their interests. However, I decided to keep my cool because I felt that in the end, they would be exposed as I am supposed to have the final say as head coach,” she said.
The coach said push came to shove when she was asked to submit the final squad.
“That is when their conspiratory plans were exposed. We assessed the squad as a coaching panel, but we differed on the choice of two players—Ellen Chiboko and Jane Chimaliro.
“I settled for Ellen because she has an edge over Chimaliro in terms of skills, but my deputy and the team manager [Abigail Sharif] had a different view. So, as the head coach I submitted the final list only for NAM to quash Ellen’s inclusion saying it was not the consensus of the entire panel.
“As head coach, the buck stops at me. Now if NAM submitted the list of players well in advance and then they go on to use a member of my backroom staff to advance their interests, what does that tell you?” wondered the coach.
Asked to comment on the working relationship with her backroom staff, Chawinga-Kalua said: “I do not think it can be sound when you have members of your own backroom staff being used for sinister plans.”
Waya refused to comment on the issue yesterday, but Bapu yesterday dismissed the coach’s claims, saying: “It is not true to suggest that we are interfering with the coach’s job, there is nothing of that sort.
“The truth is that the panel is supposed to agree on the selection, but on these two particular players, they couldn’t and that is how we came in. It is also not true that we sent the list of players without the knowledge of the coach.”
Asked the reasoning behind having a head coach when she does not have the final say in terms of final team selection, the NAM GS said: “That is supposed to be done collectively as a panel and not by one person.”
She also claimed that in consultation with the panel, Chiboko who was the coach’s choice, has since been dropped in favour of Chimaliro. Other players who have made the trip are Carol Mtukule-Ngwira (C), Towera Vinkhumbo-Nyirenda, Grace Mhango, Laureen Ngwira, Martha Dambo, Mwawi Kumwenda, Joyce Mvula, Sindi Simtowe, Bridget Kumwenda, Takondwa Lwazi and Thandi Galeta.