The International Netball Federation (INF) has announced that the Netball World Youth Cup, which Malawi will compete in, will be staged in December next year.
In July, INF in consultation with the host country Fiji decided to postpone the event from June 2021, following the uncertainty emanating from Covid-19 Pandemic.
“It will take place during the period from the December 1st to19th 2021; the precise start and end dates of the netball competition will be confirmed in the forthcoming weeks,” wrote INF on its website.
Netball Association of Malawi (NAM) general secretary Carol Bapu welcomed the new schedule, saying it offers them enough time to prepare for the games.
“We are comfortable with the dates as this will help us to have more time to prepare. You might be aware that these are youths and most of them, except for two or three will be their first competition.
“We need to prepare them well and one way of doing that is to expose them thus by having them play with other countries before the actual competition,” she said.
The Africa qualifiers for the World Cup where nearly 20 teams will pitch up, were cancelled this year.
And Bapu said Malawi has qualified after INF decided to use rankings to determine the teams that will contest.
“The qualifiers were cancelled and instead they have used the world rankings so we have qualified because we are number 6 in the world,” she said.
INF stated that it consulted all the teams before setting the dates.
“Briefing and consultation meetings were held via Zoom on the 18th August and a questionnaire was distributed to the teams to understand each nation’s views regarding the postponement of the event and preferences on whether the event should be delayed to later in 2021, postponed to 2022 and beyond, or cancelled entirely,” the statement reads.
“There was continuing support for the event to take place from the member nations and a strong preference for the December 2021 dates, with the hopes and dreams of the young athletes who have been preparing to take part at the heart of their thinking.”
INF president, Liz Nicholl described the World Youth Cup as “the pinnacle of competition for emerging players and provides a pathway for developing elite players, coaches and match officials.
Fiji’s Minister for Youth and Sports Praveen Kumar Bala said the country was working towards ensuring the safety of the teams amid Covid-19 threat.
“We will continue to work closely with INF and other relevant authorities in ensuring that all event-related risks are addressed in regards to the safety and well-being of our visitors as well as the local workforce,” he said. na