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. Malawi Queens currently ranked number six in the world by International Netball Federation (INF) is very likely to drop the ladder.
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 partnership in netball world because of the likes of Sindi Simtowe Msowaya “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. Malawi Queens also had captain fantastic Peace Chawinga Kaluwa who always made sure that Malawi 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?
Malawi Queens won the Africa Netball Championship in 2011 and in 2012 but just a year later things started going wrong for the Queens. 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 favorites came face to face with much improved South Africa at Blantyre Youth Centre, Malawi’s Netball Mecca. Malawi was so close to return the trophy but lost in the dying minutes of the match. After going in front in the fourth and last quarter Malawi 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 is 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. Uganda even borrowed some netball shoes from Malawi Queens to use that time because they were not much prepared and were receiving less financial support. Uganda lost to South Africa 39- 46 baskets and Malawi Queens 46-55 and they came to Malawi on position 12 on INF world ranking and they 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 will be released and will take the prestigious 6th place. Uganda the current Africa Netball Champions returned 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 is seating on borrowed time now, with a ranking of 6th position, rating of 124 and with 2601 points and Uganda is next with rating of 115 and 2067 points and this will likely change when the INF will announce the news 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 SheCranes are on right and bright path they will play England Rose 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 to start 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 have been very 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 urge 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 being 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 effectivity. 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 appricate 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 its too
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 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 lets enjoy while it last, you never know these might be our last supper since the future for Malawi Queens looks very grey.