Malawi Queens’ judgment day is coming, enjoy while it lasts

Mwawi Kumwenda

The Malawi National Netball Team’s, the Queens, chair at the highest table will be taken up by someone soon and in fact, much sooner than we think.

Malawi Queens have been privileged in the past to share the stage with the world’s best netball nations such as New Zealand, Australia, England and Jamaica. The Queens are currently ranked number six in the world by International Netball Federation (INF) are very likely to drop the ladder.

Malawi queens
A story of the Malawi Queens.

Since INF started the netball world rankings, Malawi Queens have been sitting comfortably in top five.

In July 2013, Malawi Queens were on position 5 with 2,430 points and with a 135 rating and South Africa National Netball Team (The Proteas) were just close below Malawi Queens with 4,259 points with a rating of 133. Malawi Queens used to be feared in Africa and even netball giants would have sleepless nights when meeting Malawi Queens.

In fact, it had one the most fearful shooting partnerships in netball world because of the likes of Sindi Simtowe Msowoya “The Sniper” and Mwai Kumwenda. Even before these two came into Malawi netball scene, Malawi Queens had netball legend Mary “Atcheya” Waya and despite her shorter height than most netball players, she used to score a lot of baskets because Malawi used to play an orthodox style of play which even taller defenders struggled with.

Malawi Queens also had captain fantastic Peace Chawinga Kaluwa who always made sure that the Queens played with stamina, she could tell her players to slow down when necessary and increase the tempo when it was required in crucial matches, this is what is also missing in this current Malawi Queens squad on top of quality leadership.

What went wrong for the Malawi Queens?
The Queens won the Africa Netball Championship in 2011 and in 2012 but just a year later things started going wrong for them. South Africa and Malawi have been going the opposite directions ever since.

When did this start? The date was set, 28th June 2013 and the stage was the African Netball Championship Finals.

Malawi the host and favourites came face to face with much improved South Africa at Blantyre Youth Centre, Malawi’s Netball Mecca.

Malawi were so close to retaining the trophy but lost in the dying minutes of the match. After going in front in the fourth and last quarter, the Queens lost two crucial centre passes and South Africa took advantage of that to win the match 54 baskets against Malawi’s 52 baskets.

Now South Africa are above Malawi and a lot of things have changed since then; better for South Africa and bad for Malawi.

The rise of She-Cranes.

Uganda, She-Cranes, also took part in that tournament in Blantyre in 2013. The She Cranes travelled over 1,810 kilometers by bus from Kampala, Uganda. They even borrowed some netball shoes from Malawi Queens to use that time because they were not much prepared and were receiving less financial support.

Mwawi Kumwenda
Mwawi Kumwenda has been a top name with the Queens.

The East Africans lost to South Africa 39-46 baskets and Malawi Queens 46-55. They came to Malawi on position 12 on INF world ranking and learned from that experience to become a powerful force.

Uganda’s She-Cranes will be very likely to swap places with Malawi when next World Netball rakings are released and will take the prestigious 6th place.

Uganda who are the current Africa Netball Champions retained the African netball title after winning 100 percent of their matches in Lusaka, Zambia a few weeks ago.

How will Uganda take Malawi Queens’ place?

Malawi Queens are sitting on borrowed time now, with a ranking of 6th position, rating of 124 and with 2,601 points while Uganda are next with rating of 115 and 2,067 points.

This will likely change when the INF will announce the new ranking unless Malawi should do well at the next year’s Netball World Cup Tournament.

Most netball fans would think Malawi will lose 6th position because they lost back to back matches against She-Cranes but the main reason is the loss to 17th positioned Zambia at Africa Netball Championship with rating on 66 and only 1190 points which will bite Malawi Queens for a long time.

The rules are very simple: winning a match always improves your rating, you get more points for beating a team with a high rating and you get fewer points for losing to a team with lower rating.

To show that the Uganda She-Cranes are on right and bright path they will play England Rose in the 3 test matches in Liverpool in November and in London, England in December, 2018.

Who will save the sinking Queens’ ship?

Whenever there is a crisis, usually most people start to judge others instead of looking at solutions collectively especially on issues concerning the whole nation. Whenever the Queens performed badly most people would rush to blame Netball Association of Malawi (NAM). We should first appreciate that NAM and Queens are two different entities.

The Queens doesn’t belong to NAM but to every Malawian citizen and NAM doesn’t sponsor the Queens but the Malawi government through our taxes.

First things first, NAM over the years has been disorganised and they lack the basic principles to run an organisation in this modern digital era. NAM still do not have an office or even an official website. Some might argue that it is expensive, but I don’t agree to this thinking. In Malawi you can register, host and manage a website for the whole year with only K150,000 (US$200) which is very affordable to NAM and that’s why even individuals have their own personal websites.

If NAM were clever enough, this cost would have been paid by sponsors who would put their adverts on the website and even make extra cash. Most people these days are also on social media and I’m concerned that NAM has failed to use this digital space affectively. I’m not even sure when NAM last updated its official Facebook page.

For instance, most people use other sources just to get information like the results of Malawi Queens matches at the last Africa Netball Championships. Malawi netball fans were expecting to watch the matches live on Facebook.

They were waiting to get updates and with proper images on Facebook but nothing of that sort happened.

We should also appreciate that NAM doesn’t have any source of revenue apart from the government sponsorship through the Malawi National Council of Sports. People in Malawi still go to watch the netball matches for free but still NAM should also take the blame if it doesn’t get enough and timely funding from government.

NAM up to this day does not have any strategic plan and any plans to start generating its own revenue to support its activities

If all of us join hands, we can save this sinking ship. Let us all reflect and contribute to save the Malawi Queens. Why not call for a crisis meeting with some former Queens players, the current Queens players, netball journalists, NAM and other some netball fans to come up with short, medium and long terms so that the Queens can bounce back before it’s too late.

Is this Malawi Queens’ last Supper?

The Queens will be participating in the Fast 5 World Netball series in October this year which in fact does not reflect any ratings in INF rankings, but might be a morale booster for the Malawi Queens if they do well.

The Queens will then participate at the Liverpool Netball World Cup in March next year. Looking at the whole picture and if we lose the position 6 in the world to Uganda then it means we will kiss goodbye all our privileges of competing at the highest level, with only best netball teams.

As we go to Fast5 Netball World Netball Series and Netball World Cup next year let’s enjoy while it last, you never know these might be our last supper since the future for Malawi Queens looks very grey.


One Comment

  1. It’s really a shame to see our Netball Queens sinking as thingS are at the moment.The only pride of the nation,The only sport we proudly sit down and talk about when we chat with our friends here in diaspora about our country.It’s really a pity that we as Malawians are just fording our hands on the development and running of netball in the country.We have see a lot of Politicians aspiring to be MPs campaigning through soccer ,and hardly netball.suggestion:We need save netball Malawi campaigning where people should donate money,once a year to help our national teams…We need to develop/groom players from young age and there should be a transition in place for aging player when replacing them….I love watching our team(Malawi )Play…I still have hope that we will do better at FAST5….THE OTHER WORRYING THING IS THAT OUR NATIONAL TEAM IS NOT PLAYING FAST NETBALL THESE DAYS AND THE UNDETECTED PLAYERS MOVEMENTS WHEN WE ARE IN POSSESSION OF THE BALL IS NOT THERE ANYMORE…Wake up girls,all is not lost yet…..

Comments are closed.