Malawi National Council for Sports executive secretary George Jana has said Queens’ sloppy performance at the Fast5 World Netball Series in New Zealand was a wake-up call, but dismissed claims that grievances over unpaid dues affected the team.
“The allowances were paid before the team left and, therefore, I do not think that comes as an excuse. Players need to be professional and fight to deliver on a programme regardless of whether they were paid or not. Self-pride and spirit of achievement must drive that profession. Allowances do not play the sport,” Jana explained.
The Africa’s number one team finished bottom and winless in New Zealand on Sunday, with the absence of star shooter Mwawi Kumwenda who opted out of the team. Reports suggest that before the team’s departure, allowances from previous tournaments were not paid.
Jana refused to comment on Mwawi, but called for development of specialised programmes to bring results in different versions of netball such as the Fast5, noting that the New Zealand result is not a direct reflection of Malawi’s performance at the World Cup.
Fast5 is a shortened version of netball with scores from range carrying more points.
“However, this should not be an excuse. Now that we know that there are different needs in the different versions of netball, we need to develop players for both. In my mind, not necessarily the same players should feature in both. There must be special groups for each that should specialise.”
“That way, competition between the players could also be spread and intensified. Similarly, the coaching and technical panels should also specialise and you will not have players think they are bigger than the team or that the team cannot do without them. Team depth will be created as well,” he said.
NAM general secretary Carol Bapu yesterday admitted that Mwawi’s absence was felt, but appreciated the services of other players that travelled with the team which was expected back home at noon yesterday.
Meanwhile, the International Netball Federation has announced that there will be no Fast5 competition next year and, probably in the near future, as no country expressed interest to host this version of netball and meet all the expenses, including six best world teams.