Netball Association of Malawi (NAM) is facing a race against time to name the Queens’ coaching panel ahead of the preparations for the Africa Netball Championship which throws off on August 13 in Zambia.
Last week, Minister of Labour, Youth, Sports and Manpower Development Francis Kasaila directed that NAM should first release the Queens’ coaching panel before funding for the tournament is released.
Netball Africa has since released the full fixture of the tournament which indicates that the Queens will play their first game against Zimbabwe on August 14.
Asked when the team will go into camp and the composition of the coaching panel, NAM general secretary Carol Bapu yesterday said: “Things are working on the ground [and] we will communicate on the dates as well as the panel.”
Asked further if the delay has anything to do with the minister’s directive, the NAM GS, sounding ice-cool, said: “No comment.”
The minister was quoted by Daily Times last week questioning the credentials of the coaching panel which accompanied the Queens to Australia for the Commonwealth Games where they finished seventh.
“Government has always supported the Queens. [But] the question is are we going there [to Zambia] to compete or participate? When we went to Australia, I would say [we were there just] to participate, we noticed some technical challenges by some people who are supposed to help the Queens. In simpler terms, we didn’t have a coach,” he was quoted as saying.
At the Commonwealth Games, the Queens were under the tutelage of Whyte Mlilima and physical trainer Griffin Saenda Jnr. This was after the head coach Griffin Saenda Snr failed to travel due to illness.
However, Saenda Snr yesterday said he is now fit to take charge of the Queens.
“I am feeling much, much better now, but I have not been told whether I will take charge of the team.
“But I have been called for a meeting by NAM later today [yesterday]. So, I should be in a position to know after that meeting,” he said.
The Queens are most likely to have a full-strength squad for the tournament as all the three overseas-based professionals—Mwawi Kumwenda, Joyce Mvula and Laureen Ngwira—will be on off-season break.
The Queens’ next game at the continental showpiece will be against Uganda on August 15, hosts Zambia on August 16, Namibia on August 17 and Kenya on August 18. n