Malawi Government has ordered newly elected Netball Association of Malawi (NAM) to develop a strategic plan.
This follows a revelation that NAM is the only high-profile local sports body operating without any.
Many people say the development is behind the sport’s slow growth despite the national team’s continental dominance.
In an interview on Wednesday, Minister of Sports Enoch Chihana said he will summon the new committee at the end of this month to discuss how to clean up problems in the game.
The past few years, NAM has been accused of being disorganised. This has led to loss of sponsorship such as Toyota Cup and Standard Bank Cup, with sponsors openly accusing NAM of unprofessional administration.
The period also saw, the name of the game being dragged in the mud with wrangles between NAM and its affiliates over its leadership style.
“Netball is a big game in Malawi, but its leadership, of late, has left a lot to be desired. There is no way such a body could be operating without a plan and has never had one since it was formed.
“How do you convince sponsors and other players to come on board when there is no direction and purpose of existence? Malawi netball has a big status in Africa and in the world, but that status and the reality of our game on the ground in the country do not tally.
“Then, there are these verbal wars. There is need to bring discipline and sanity in this game which is performing [well] for Malawi,” said Chihana.
MultiChoice Malawi marketing manager Chimwemwe Nyirenda, whose company launched a K12 million (about $30 000) netball cup last Saturday, said NAM needs to improve its corporate image if it is to get more companies on board.
“As MultiChoice, we came in to support netball because of the performance of the national team. We want to help identify more players to strengthen the Queens. But on the ground, the administration is not convincing. We hope things will improve so that our partnership with netball should be long-term,” he said.
NAM affiliates have expressed satisfaction with the new committee which has four new faces in key positions. The affiliates say they look forward to improved relations.
Southern Region Netball League (SRNL) was probably NAM’s biggest headache.
Said SRNL’s general secretary Anne Hanjahanja: “We were not jealous of people in the committee, but we wanted professionalism in administering the game. That is why we were making noise. We are ready to cooperate and work with the new committee in promoting the game.”
Central Region Netball Committee (CRNC) chairperson Fanuel Katengeza said they expect the new committee to be open in dealing with the affiliates in projects.
“Unlike other sports bodies such as FAM, the problem with NAM was that they monopolised everything. We want them to involve us in their executive meetings as stipulated by the constitution,” said Katengeza.
National team players have also been in bad books with NAM over their welfare.
Australia-based Queens shooter Mwawi Kumwenda said: “Malawi’s netball has gained a big status because of the national team performance over the past seven years. Yet, the players are not taken care of. Priority is given to officials’ allowances while players suffer. We hope players’ welfare will improve.”
Newly elected NAM general secretary Carol Bapu, formerly of Southern Region Netball Committee, said the new committee will bring many changes in the running of the game.
“The good thing is that most of us were part of those who were making noise and now we are in the positions. With the old members, we will make a good team to address the concerns.
“We are meeting for the first time as a committee next week to look at the strategic plan. Then, we will call for a meeting with leaders of all our affiliates,” she said.