The Malawi netball fraternity has heaved a sigh of relief after MultiChoice Malawi yesterday announced the return of GOtv Netball Champions League.
The annual competition did not take place last year after MultiChoice Malawi complained that the local netball calendar was too tight to accommodate the event, but the company’s sales and marketing manager Chimwemwe Nyirenda said the league’s fourth edition will roll into action next month.
He added that the tournament will maintain the Fast5 format that comprises five-a-side games following the achievement of Malawi Queens at the 2016 Fast5 World Netball Series Championship where they managed to win bronze.
“The tournament will return this year and will be played between August and September. The period has been selected in order to give the Queens ample time to prepare for the 2017 Fast5 World Series this October in Australia,” Nyirenda said.
“The success of the Queens at the 2016 Fast5 Series has shown that the players benefited from the previous GOtv tournament. We hope coaches can also use the imminent league to select players best suited for the upcoming international competition in Australia.”
According to Nyirenda, GOtv league matches are expected to be broadcast live on local television stations with the view of increasing the sport’s popularity and will be launched sometime in August when sponsorship package, number of teams and criteria used to identify contestants will be known.
At least K18 million was pumped into the 2015 edition for prizes, teams’ logistics and administration. The contest comprised eight teams, namely Kukoma Diamonds, Tigresses, Thunder Queens, Blue Eagles Sisters, CivoNets, Mafco Soldiers, Lameck Queens and Mimosa Queens.
“We will discuss with Netball Association of Malawi [NAM] on certain logistics of the competition. But what is clear is that it will involve teams from the cities of Blantyre, Lilongwe and Mzuzu; areas where our television towers are installed,” he said.
NAM and some giant local netball clubs expressed delight at the return of the competition yesterday, saying, it will rejuvenate the excitement of domestic netball.
“I am yet to be officially communicated about the return of the tournament but, I must say, this is a welcomed development,” said NAM president Khungekile Matiya.
Malawi Queens and Kukoma Diamonds coach Griffin ‘Zagalo’ Saenda, whose team won the last edition after beating Blue Eagles Sisters 38-28, had this to say: “As Queens, we are very thankful to MultiChoice because games of that nature give us plenty of time to assess the players. As Diamonds, we are ready for title defence.” n