The Malawi Under-20 national netball team yesterday settled for a silver medal at the African Union Sports Council (AUSC) Region Five Youth Games in Botswana after losing 29-61 to South Africa in the final.
This means netball is theonly team sport that has won Malawi a medal at the games as the Under-17 men’sfootball team and Under-20 women’s sides failed to make the semi-final grade.
The result is also a feat worth celebrating, considering that this was the first time in three years that the under-20 national netball team had been assembled for an international event and Malawi has no junior netball league in place.
Yesterday, the Junior Queens went into the gold medal match confident to make amends to their 38-48 defeat by their bigger opponents in the opener last Sunday, but they ended up widening the loss margin from 10 baskets to 32.
The third quarter ended 49-21, meaning that the junior national netball team planted in eight baskets compared to South Africa’s 12 in the final segment.
“The girls played well today only that our opponents were much better, especially on the attack. We could have done better had we not misplaced a lot of passes. All the same, it is no mean achievement to win silver,” said Junior Queens coach Christina Mkwanda-Nsinji.
On their way to the gold medal match, Malawi won five of their six round-robin matches on the trot. They beat Lesotho 60-30, Zambia 56-32, Zimbabwe 40-37, Nambia 68-29 and Botswana 55-40.
Netball Association of Malawi (NAM) general secretary Carol Bapu said the local netball governing body is impressed with the team’s performance despite the loss.
“The performance was good, considering that most of our players were making their first international appearance. It was only Ethel Ng’ambi and Cythia Khunga who had international exposure. On top of that, we played the final game without three key defenders who sustained injuries,” she said.
In other placement matches, Zimbabwe beat Zambia to win bronze while Namibia edged Lesotho in the battle for the fifth-place. Hosts Botswana finished at the bottom of the seven-team contest.