Labour, Youth, Sports and Manpower Development Minister Francis Kasaila has offered to engage the Netball Association of Malawi (NAM) and star shooter Mwawi Kumwenda to resolve the current standoff.
Kasaila said this in the wake of Malawi’s dreadful showing at the just ended Fast5 World Netball Series in Melbourne Australia, which was won by England.
The Queens’ preparations for the tournament was shrouded in controversy following Kumwenda’s expulsion from camp for reporting late.
That was followed by the stepping aside of head coach Samuel Kanyenda who didn’t agree with NAM’s decision on the matter.
Kasaila’s intervention to have the Melbourne Vixens towering shooter back in camp hit a snag as NAM stood its ground.
What followed at the tournament was an embarrassing drubbing leaving the Queens winless in 6 matches.
The team which had set out on a mission to better last year’s third place finish, agonisingly ended up bottom of the 6 nation tourney losing twice to continental rivals South Africa.
Speaking about the team’s performance, Kasaila said it was disappointing but he added that he will wait for a NAM report when the team returns.
He however refused to connect the team’s disastrous run to Kumwenda’s absence.
“It’s no secret that the performance was awful, but I cannot conclude that it was because of her expulsion. My intervention to have the player back in the squad was a way of bringing unity and harmony in the squad, nothing more,” said Kasaila.
The minister then disclosed that his office is ready to mediate between NAM and the player to settle the standoff which dates back from a few years back.
“My office has no problem to engage both parties in resolving the impasse. But that has to start from them. If they are willing to talk, we can always come in,” said Kasaila.
He added: “Netball brings joy to the nation and puts this country on the global map, so we need to stay focused as one and stop pulling in different directions.”
A similar misunderstanding some years ago needed the intervention of then Sports Minister Grace Chiumia for Kumwenda to return to the squad.
While some observers and commentators have called for the resignation of the NAM top brass, others have backed the association for its handling of the saga.