‘Diamonds are forever’, so goes the saying. But it remains to be seen if Kukoma Diamonds’ dominance in the Rainbow Paints Southern Region Netball League (SRNL) will last forever.
But for now, call them the invincibles, following their official crowning as champions of the 2017/18 season on Saturday after winning all their 18 matches.
The crowning ceremony took place at the Blantyre Youth Centre.
It was Diamonds’ second consecutive title, clinched a few weeks ago, with a number of games to spare.
They made sure second placed Thunder Queens did not spoil the party, beating them 55 – 41 in their final season fixture on the day, to eventually wrap up the championship with a 9 point lead at the top.
Speaking after the end of the campaign, Blantyre District Netball Committee Chairperson, described the season as a success.
“We are happy to have come to a conclusion today, considering that it was a long season, delayed by the national, regional and district elections at the start of the year and national team engagements. But all in all we had a fantastic season, very competitive and exciting” said Kazembe.
Sponsors Rainbow Paints reaffirmed their commitment to supporting the league but bemoaned the poor performance of the southern region teams in national competitions this season, coupled by the national team’s shoddy display on the international stage.
“When we support this league, we want to see the fruits reflected in the national team, so it is our wish to see the national queens return to winning ways. We also want to see this league continue to form the bulk of the national squad and our teams to dominate in local competitions,” said Rainbow’ Sales Executive Jangale Chiosa.
In her remarks, Netball Association of Malawi (NAM) general secretary Carol Bapu commended Rainbow for bankrolling the league which is among the catchment areas for the national team.
“All the netball talent that does the country proud on the global scene, is tapped from these regional leagues, so we applaud Rainbow for their kind gesture, and appeal to other companies to do likewise in the north and eastern regions,” said Bapu.
For their blistering run to the championship, Diamonds got a trophy and K1 million while Thunder pocketed K500,000.
Sleeping giants, Tigresses finished third, 11 points behind the champions to pocket K250,000 while fourth placed Zomba based Prison Sisters got K200,000.
There was something for all the ten participating teams, with bottom team Young Professionals receiving K110,000.
In individual awards, Diamonds’ shooter Alinafe Kamwala got K80,000 from the event’s guest of honour, entrepreneur and former parliamentarian Anne Fletcher after emerging player of the season.
Best shooter was Serenity Stars’ Yamikani Davalasi while Eliza Kamwachale of Polytechnic was the season’s most outstanding centre.
Chimwemwe Hadi of Chilomoni Sisters was the best defender.
Masiye Chiphwanya was the overwhelming winner for best umpire award as Mayamiko Sefasi of Polytechnic and Martha Shaba from Young shared the award for coach of the season.
The media wasn’t left out in the cold, as five of its members were rewarded for being a cut above the rest in their coverage of the competition in different categories.