Mary Waya says male coaches demand sexual favours from netball players


Malawi netball legend Mary Waya says the behaviour of male coaches is a challenge for netball players because some coaches demand sexual favours from players in exchange for national team selection.

Waya has made the claim in an interview with the BBC Africa Daily podcast.

The 55-year-old said women are forced into relationships with coaches in the hope of securing selection to national teams.

“If they are female coaches, you feel safe because you have got a ‘mother’ near you,” she added. “You know ‘I’m protected’.

“With male coaches, we always look at them as our ‘fathers’ and then they easily tell us, ‘I’m not your father – if you want to go to the national team, you have to be my [girlfriend], so that you can be at the top of the team’.”

She further that in the changing rooms, players feel insecure because of the male coaches.

According to Waya, the issue has endured since she was a teenage player.

She, however, said that netball remains hugely beneficial to players.

“It gives us mental and physical health,” she said. “It shows us that we can be empowered and do things with our own mind and strength.”

Waya has been in netball for 25 years and played for the Malawi National Netball Team on more than 200 occasions, featuring in multiple editions of the World Netball Championships, Commonwealth Games and World Netball Series

She was a commentator at the 2023 World Cup in South Africa where Malawi finished seventh after wins over Scotland, Barbados, Fiji and Tonga during the preliminary stages.

Meanwhile, Nam General Secretary Isaac Chimwala has told the local media that the association will meet to discuss the matter.

“Coming from a former national team player, the association will not take this lightly. I must state that such behaviour is uncalled for. The board will certainly meet on this issue to determine the way forward,” he said.

He added that the association has not received any complaints regarding sexual abuse in netball but has a code of conduct for the national team.