Lawn Tennis Association of Malawi (Ltam) has cancelled the junior national team’s trip to Windhoek, Namibia for the Southern Africa Zonal Championship due to the Thursday demonstrations in Lilongwe.
Eight tennis players and their coach Henry Mtuta were expected to depart on Thursday for the qualifiers of the Africa Championship through Kamuzu International Airport (KIA) in Lilongwe, the day the Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) organised demonstrations against the police for its failure to arrest and prosecute its officers that allegedly raped women at Msundwe, M’bwatalika and Mpingu last October.
Ltam technical committee head Owen Mfune yesterday said International Tennis Federation (ITF) is strict on associations and does not allow athletes travel out when there is instability in their country.
The week-long competition started on Friday and the Malawi team was expected to have their first matches on Saturday.
“The ITF does not allow athletes to travel when there is instability in their country and we could not do otherwise, but cancel the trip,” Mfune said.
Some of the affected players yesterday rued a missed opportunity due to the abandonment of the trip.
“I wanted to use this trip as a platform to expose my skills across the borders and probably find an opportunity for a tennis scholarship. All the same, I will try my luck next time,” said Junior Mkandawire. Apart from Mkandawire, others that were expected to make the trip were Mitchell Ndhlovu, Golden Kamanga, Austin Phiri, Diana Nyirenda, Chisomo Liyao, Beauty Kaunda and Med Theu.