Queens tread dangerously

Malawi Queens’ delay to start preparations for the 2019 Netball World Cup in Liverpool, England in July has spoiled coach Griffin ‘Zagalo’ Saenda’s training programme.

In an interview with The Nation yesterday, the experienced coach said he expected to start drilling the Queens during the first week of this month, but the camping delays have put him in an awkward situation.

“I am really worried with the delay because, according to my programme, we could have been at an advanced stage of our preparations by now. However, my hands are tied because Netball Association of Malawi [NAM] says there is no funding,” he said.

“My plan was to begin the preparations sometime last year and if the worse came to worst early this month. It is really tough to have effective preparations considering the time that is left.”

The development comes at a time the Queens are in danger of losing the world’s sixth ranking and Africa’s second ranking to fast-improving seventh-ranked Uganda’s She Cranes, who recently beat Malawi to retain the Africa Netball Championship title.

The international competition between July 12 and 21 will not only determine the Queens’ rankin,  but also their privilege to automatically qualify for the next Netball World Cup as a team that is within the top-six bracket in the world.

Meanwhile, all the other contestants in the 16-team event, including fellow Africans South Africa, Uganda and Zimbabwe, already intensified their preparations since last year by among others taking part in international test series matches. 

NAM’s  budget of  K100 million for the global showpiece  is expected to come from the government and  well-wishers.

Nevertheless, NAM general secretary Carol Bapu refused to comment on the coach’s concerns.

Minister of Labour, Youth, Sports and Manpower Development principal secretary Joseph Mwandidya said the funds are available but they are waiting for an official request from the local netball governing body.

“At present, NAM is yet to make an official request for the funding as per the requirement through the Malawi National Council of Sports [MNCS],” he said. 

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