Government and Netball Association of Malawi (NAM) have admitted that netball is on the decline as evidenced by the national netball team’s poor showing at continental and global competitions.
This transpired during a netball review meeting the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture had with Netball Association of Malawi (NAM) and Malawi National Council of Sports (MNCS) in Lilongwe on Sunday.
The meeting, which lasted slightly over two hours, came up with recommendations to revive the sport.
In a statement released by the ministry yesterday, among other things, NAM’s lack of a comprehensive a national plan is one of the reasons that have contributed to the sport’s plunge.
“This has led to ad-hoc planning and lack of clear direction,” reads part of the statement .
The meeting also ordered NAM to come up with the plan by October 4 with the help of director of netball Mary Waya.
NAM has since been urged to commercialise the game and do more in courting the corporate world instead of just relying on government funding.
The meeting also called on the association to develop a comprehensive training programme and classifications for technical personnel at all levels.
“This will ensure a continued and consistent development,” reads part of the statement.
NAM was, therefore, advised to identify a clear player-selection system for national teams, clubs and schools, focusing on skill, age and height.
Age-cheating was another area which the meeting identified as having contributed to the deteriorating standards of netball.
Lack of leagues at all levels and insufficient development programmes from Under-14 right up to senior team is another problem the meeting cited.
Government was not spared either, as the meeting also established that failure to hire a permanent national coach is also a contributing factor and NAM and Sports Council were, therefore, tasked to come up with a “clear job description to recruit a full-time coach”.
The meeting also called upon the government to implement its pledge to construct an indoor netball complex and ensure that all schools and districts have “simple courts”.
It was also resolved that players’ incentives such as game bonuses and training allowances “should be resolved as soon as possible”.
NAM general secretary Carol Bapu said they are hopeful of meeting the deadline on coming up with the National Development Plan.
“You may wish to know that NAM has a strategic plan [and] drawing a the National Development Plan will mean that we go to our blueprint and look at short and long-term programmes and how we intend to implement them.
“On the issue of tournaments and leagues at all levels, I can say that is our wish. We should, however, point out that resources remain a big challenge. Netball worldwide is a growing sport. Unlike in football where Fifa has put a lot of money into youth development, we currently don’t have such opportunities from the game’s world governing body,” she said.
On selection of national team players, Bapu stressed that NAM is not involved in the process.
On his part, director of sports in the ministry Jameson Ndalama said government is committed to improving netball standards.
“For instance, allocation for the construction of an indoor netball complex has been made in the proposed [2019/20] National Budget.
“As for the players’ incentives, I cannot say when exactly it will be done as we are tackling it across the board—meaning that we are looking at other disciplines as well, but in short, the commitment is there,” he said.
However, netball analyst Wesley Namasala had some reservations.
“It will be speculative on whether NAM will meet the October 4 deadline to come up with a comprehensive National Development Plan.
“However, based on NAM’s previous laissez-faire approach to issues of national importance, I will not be surprised if they miss the deadline. “NAM has performed dismally in wooing investors other than government,” he said.