GOtv Malawi has dropped a bombshell following its announcement that it has withdrawn sponsorship of the annual GOtv Netball Champions League.
Apart from being one of the few remaining national netball tournaments, the GOtv Champions League also benefited the Malawi Queens as it used the Fast5 World Netball series’ format.
GOtv Malawi marketing manager Yuk-yen Au-yeung, MultiChoice has not sponsored the 2018 edition of the domestic club competition after a thorough review of its sponsorship programmes to align them with the company’s flagship initiatives of creating shared value in the local television production industry.
“The sponsorship has come to an end. We deeply regret any inconvenience that this may cause to netball lovers. Throughout our close partnership with the netball league over the last few years, we enjoyed working with teams and shared their passion and excitement to grow and nurture the sports code in Malawi,” she said.
NAM general secretary Carol Bapu described the development as a big blow to the Malawi netball family, which had hopes in the GOtv contest.
“The news came at a time everything was in place for the 2018 edition of the GOtv league. We had already prepared uniforms and had set the dates. To us it is a blow that after all that preparations, the club competition, which helps to fine-tune the Queens, will not take place,” she said.
To make matters worse, the Queens are the only team going to the six-team Fast5 World Netball Series in Australia without playing any preparatory international match, a development that might affect their performance at the global showpiece.
The tournament will be held in Australia between October 27 and 28.
All their other opponents—defending champions England’s Red Roses, hosts Australia’s Diamonds, New Zealand’s Silver Ferns, Sunshine Girls of Jamaica and South Africa’s Spar Proteas—have been engaging in series matches for the past few weeks.
When asked what the Queens’ will do to make up for the absence of the international strength-testing matches as they leave for Melbourne, Australia this Tuesday, national netball team head coach Griffin Saenda said there will be no other special preparations.
“We are having our normal training as we groom the players. There is nothing special,” he said while admitting the setback for the Queens’ Fast5 campaign.
Over three weeks ago, Australia, New Zealand, England and South Africa took part in the Quad Series Games.
This happened before Ferns’ 55-44 Constellation Cup victory over Diamonds last weekend.
Just a few days ago, hosts Jamaica engaged England in a three-match series matches in Kingston.
Yet the Queens, who are expected to improve on their embarrassing sixth-place finish at last year’s event after losing all their five games, only bank on their normal three-week camp training and their participation in the African Netball Championship in Uganda over two months ago.
The development means Joyce Mvula, who featured for English top league side Manchester Thunder in the British Fast5 Netball All-Stars Championship last week, is the only Queens player that had a feel of a preparatory tournament.
In spite of that, Bapu said the Queens could not play a number of preparatory international games as other Fast5 series’ contestants due lack of adequate resources.
One of the Queens’ players, who pleaded for anonymity, said the GOtv Champions League and preparatory international games do not only help them with the much-needed match fitness ahead of Fast5 but also motivate them through incentives such as allowances.
Although all general netball rules such as no contact, obstruction and stepping apply in Fast5 games, there are different from conventional netball in that they are fast, furious and exciting.
They teach netballers to play a fast game and endure pressure as they are fewer on court as compared to conventional netball. Traditional netball has a seven-a-side format while Fast5 has five-a-side.