Airtel Malawi through Airtel Money has given the Netball Association of Malawi (NAM) K10 million (US$22 222) for the Malawi Queens camp training ahead of the Diamond Challenge International Series and the African Netball Championship in South Africa and Namibia respectively this month.
The company’s public relations and communications manager Edith Tsilizani confirmed the donation, which is part of the K360 million (US$800 000) netball sponsorship, saying they want the team to have thorough preparations before their departure for the two tournaments.
“The Queens have always put the nation on the map and for them to continue doing so, they need to have good preparations. We have provided K10 million just to ensure they lack nothing as they prepare for the competitions,” said Tsilizani.
She said through Airtel Money, her company seeks to empower the Queens to progress in netball and at the same time inspire young girls to take the sport seriously as a career.
The Queens will leave on Sunday for Durban, South Africa for the Diamonds Challenge. The tournament will be held between June 14 and 18. Thereafter, they will proceed to Namibia for the African Championship between June 24 and 27. Eight countries are expected to take part in the Diamonds Challenge Series.
“Airtel has always been there for us. We are very grateful for their role in the sport. We need more companies to emulate Airtel Malawi,” said NAM president Rosy Chinunda.
Meanwhile, the Queens, whose air tickets, accommodation and food have been arranged by Netball South Africa, are in camp at Blantyre Youth Centre (BYC) where caretaker coaches Peace Chawinga-Kalua and Mary Waya have expressed satisfaction with the start of preparations.
Among the 21 players that were called for camp training, only Civonets’ Esther Kachingwe has failed to turn up for unspecified reasons.
However, Chawinga-Kalua said they will make do with the available players when selecting a final squad of 14 netballers.
“From the squad we have, we will be able to come up with a good team for the two international tournaments. All the available netballers are showing great skills during training and it will not be easy for us to name a final squad,” she said.
The Queens are hoping to recover from their poor showing last year when they lost six consecutive games, including a 22-30 defeat by their fiercest rivals South Africa, during the Fast5 Netball Series in New Zealand. They went on to lose two test series matches against England.