Interestingly, there are 11 men who earned Grade A at the end of the Federation of International Netball (Ifna) course at the Blantyre Youth Centre (BYC).
Ifna umpires tutor Margaret Deighan did the grading.
The stand-out performers were Whyte Mlilima, Sibongile Moyo and Haneck Mphoza (Lilongwe); Titus Wankhamwa and Joseph Kuwanda (Zomba); Elina Mapulanga, Rabecca Dulanya, Noel Mussa, Stanford MangÃ¢â‚¬â„¢anda (Blantyre); Steve Mgwadira (Mulanje); Precious Pakhosi (Likoma Island) and Joseph Mwamuni Banda (Mzuzu).
NAM general secretary Helene Mpinganjira on Sunday refused to rate others as underperformers in the course, insisting the umpires just received their grades.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“The grades will help a lot as they will give NAM a benchmark when asking the National Umpires Committee for people to handle high-profile tournaments and games,Ã¢â‚¬Â said Mpinganjira, noting that the cream of the umpires stand a chance to earn Ifna grading to handle international matches.
While some excelled in practicals, putting ideas on paper in theory, articulating issues proved challenging for some due to lack of writing skills, according to sources.
Malawi Queens could benefit from the cream of the local umpires.Ã‚Â Oftentimes, the Queens are not accompanied to international competitions by own umpires as, until the course, their local umpires were ungraded.
In a telephone interview, one of the Grade A performers, Dulanya, on Sunday said the course was enlightening. She, too, refused to say other umpires failed.
Other umpires received grades B and C. In Grade B, there were Garvey Nyondo, Carol Bapu and Jean Matola (Blantyre); Theresa Chipolopolo, Madano Tepetheya, Rose Kampira (Lilongwe); Allan Nkhonjera (Chitipa); Emily Nghambi, Loyce Mwanza (Mzuzu) and Brian Gausi (Kasungu).
Those who attained Grade C are Jean Nyirenda (Mzimba); Alick Mhone, Rexa Chiumia and Debora Gondwe (Mzuzu); Michael Likaka (Zomba); Catherine Bharma (Kasungu) and Aaron Hara (Dowa).
Ifna African Region Development manager Joan Smit opened the course on Tuesday last week.
The course is part of IfnaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s efforts to uplift Malawi netball standards. Ifna has selected Malawi alongside Trinidad and Tobago and Northern Ireland for netball development.