Malawi Queens coach Griffin ‘Zagallo ’ Saenda says he still has enough fuel in his tank to be in charge of the national netball team.
The battle-hardened coach was reacting to Queens’ legend and former captain Emmie Waya-Chongwe’s call that he is over the hill and should consider paving way for other coaches. She faulted Netball Association of Malawi (NAM) for extending his contract by a year ahead of the 2019 Netball World Cup.
But in an interview yesterday, Saenda said he believes he still has the energy to coach the Queens.
“I did not impose myself as a coach. It is a national cause and I cannot turn down a national call.
“It is NAM which appoints the technical panel and if they feel like I am the right person for the job, so be it. They [NAM] call the shots,” he said.
Asked if he felt offended by Waya-Chongwe’s sentiments, Saenda laughed and said: “No, not at all. She was only expressing her opinion I guess. I would also like to believe that it was not personal.”
Waya-Chongwe, who captained the Queens for close to a decade, was quoted by www.nyasatimes.com as having said: “Mr. Saenda has produced good results for the Queens, but I think he is now tired. I think it’s time to bring in another coach and Mr. Saenda could only be helping that coach.
“We have coaches like Peace Chawinga-Kaluwa who can do the job. One wonders why the whole technical panel is being dominated by men when this is a women’s sport and now there is advocacy for 50-50 campaign.”
She went on to fault NAM for appointing Whyte Mlilima as an claiming that he is not a qualified coach.assistant national coach,
“I have known Mr. Mlilima as an umpire and not a qualified coach,” Waya Chongwe was further quoted as having said.
Reacting to the development, NAM general secretary Carol Bapu yesterday said she could not comment on the issue.
“We cannot comment on the issue because she [Waya-Chongwe] did not bring it to our attention first,” she said.
On his part, netball analyst Wesley Namasala suggested the need for proper transition before Saenda can quit the stage.
“Mr. Saenda has a legendary status in our netball history. His footprints on the Malawi netball landscape are so conspicuous. He has rendered his service to the nation for over 30 years.“At this point, [therefore], it is very crucial that he imparts his skills and vast knowledge accumulated from a lengthy experience with the Queens to upcoming coaches. It is prudent to delicately manage the transition from our legends such as Mr. Saenda to upcoming coaches.
“We face a bleak future if that is not done now. We need to provide a platform for upcoming coaches for them to gain experience and acquire the necessary skills whilst retaining Saenda to provide the guidance and necessary mentorship behind the scenes, without proper transition, we are doomed,” he said.