No more free entry! The 2017 edition of GOtv Netball Champions League will throw-off this Saturday at the Blantyre Youth Centre (BYC) with netball lovers paying K200 entry fee per head.
MultiChoice Malawi sales and marketing manager Chimwemwe Nyirenda said yesterday the initiative aims to empower women in sports through income generation and changing the people’s wrong perception that netball is for free.
“Looking at the way netball is progressing and the status of Malawi Queens, it is not on for the sport to continue being looked down upon by letting people watch domestic matches for free. The problem is not necessarily that people cannot afford to pay at the gates, but there is a wrong mentality that netball matches are for free,” he said.
“At least K200 is fair. So, the idea is not necessarily to make more money, but create that mindset for people to respect the game and empower women in sports through income generation as the tournament’s theme Women Empowerment suggests.”
He said the trend will be maintained during the second round of the competition between September 16 and 17 at Katoto Secondary School in Mzuzu and the final round between September 30 and October 1 at Don Bosco in Lilongwe.
Clubs have since welcomed the development, saying it would not only help the sport match its status with meaningful revenue, but also assist clubs address the financial hiccups they face in their operations.
Tigresses’ team manager Helene Mpinganjira-Tasosa said: “Most netball clubs are self-sponsored and we struggle to effectively finance our operations. With this initiative, we hope that some of our financial problems will be addressed as is the case with our football counterparts.”
The idea of making people pay at netball matches would be a big litmus test for domestic netball competitions. Previously, there have been similar initiatives but they fell by the way side.
When Malawi hosted the African Netball Championship in 2013, people were made to pay at the gates but the practice vanished as soon as the competition ended. In other high-profile netballing nations such as South Africa, people pay to watch league games.
Just a few weeks ago, Southern Region Netball League (SRNL) general secretary Annie Hanjahanja-Billie announced that people would be paying to watch matches in the on-going Rainbow Paints League, but the contest has now entered its fourth week without the initiative being implemented.
She said they are yet to roll out the initiative as they were waiting for NAM and its partners to set it out at a national level first.
“The plan is still intact only that we were waiting for our mother body to set the ball rolling so as to inject a spirit of paying at the gates among netball lovers. We could not start on our own because we felt that could not make a huge impact. Let us first see how the idea will be welcomed in the GOtv Netball League,” Hanjahanja-Billie said.
NAM president Khungekile Matiya said after rolling out the idea in the GOtv contest, they will back down on the campaign, which is also part of making the country’s netball professional.
“Netball is an exciting game and we want people to enjoy it while contributing something to the development of the sport. The last time we had the Presidential Netball Championship finals, the venue was fully packed and Malawi National Council of Sports board chairperson James Chuma wondered why entry was free. Now, everything will change,” she said.
Nevertheless, Matiya lamented that NAM does not have its own infrastructure, a development that would make it difficult for them to earn meaningful revenue. She, therefore, pleaded with the corporate world to assist them.