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Malawi ‘weren’t ready’

Four days after the Malawi netball team failed to arrive for the three Test Spar Challenge series against South Africa, the Netball Association of Malawi (NAM) finally made contact with Netball South Africa (NSA).

NSA president Mimi Mthethwa, received a fax from her Malawian counterpart Rosa Chinunda, saying the Malawi Sports Council had decided the Malawi team, who are known as the Malawi Queens, were not ready for the series. “The Queens did not have enough time to prepare for the series, considering that their opponents have played several matches against strong teams,” said the NAM president.

South Africa were planning to used the series to improve their world ranking and thus qualify for the Commonwealth Games in New Delhi, India later this year.

Chinunda said she had held an emergency meeting with the principal secretary and the Director of Sports in Malawi and had consulted with the International Federation of Netball Associations (Ifna) representative for Africa, Joan Smith. “The decision which has been agreed upon is to postpone the games to July-August, so that our team can prepare. This time the (Malawi) government is going to sponsor the preparations and the trip to South Africa,” said Chinunda.

However, NSA president Mimi Mthethwa, is not buying Chinunda’s explanation. “If they weren’t ready, why did they accept the invitation,” she asked. “And why didn’t they let us know?” Mthethwa said she had emailed Ifna to make a formal complaint about Malawi’s non-arrival for the Ifna-sanctioned Tests, which were to have been played at the University of Zululand in Richards Bay on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.

“Ifna have told me they are taking the matter very seriously, and have asked me for a full account of the costs incurred.” “We want Malawi to pay for the losses we have incurred, and we want to address what has happened before we go any further. “I don’t know whether we will play the matches in July or August – that might not fit in with the schedule drawn up by our coach, Carin Strauss. “I want to take this step by step,” she said. “Once everything has been settled, we can look again at our future relationship with Malawi.”

NSA and its sponsor Spar had agreed to pay all Malawi’s costs, including airfares, accommodation, spending money and incentives. Three international umpires were flown to South Africa from New Zealand, Australia and England, and NSA also had to pay for the transportation and assembly of the sprung wooden floor. Mthethwa cancelled the series on Tuesday.


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