The Under-21 national netball team left yesterday for the Africa Youth Netball Championship in Botswana.
Despite the Netball Association of Malawi (NAM) trimming the team’s budget to K55 million ($75 967) from the initial K80 million ($110 497), the Junior Queens still had K25 million ($34 530) deficit, which has been reduced to K15 million ($20 718) following an Airtel Money donation of K10 million last week.
But NAM president Rosy Chinunda has said the deficit will not negatively affect the team’s performance at the continental showpiece as they intend to rework their budget.
“We have reached a point of no return in our bid to win the African Championship. We will make sure the most important areas of our campaign are not affected. For example, we will not afford to buy new sports shoes and we have decided that the Under-21 team should use those of their seniors,” she said.
The12 players that have made the trip are Ethel Ng’ambi, Tendai Masamba, Vedina Nsanza, Cynthia Khunga, Florence Gamuka, Evelyn Kapichi, Mervis Suguma, Linda Mvula, Lucia Chifwambi, Mervis Kayange, Brenda Luwanda and Esther Sibale.
Assistant coach Whyte Mlilima said they are confident the team will do well at the competition where they are tasked to win the title or, at least, finish among the top-three teams so as to qualify for the 2017 World Youth Netball Championships.
The Junior Queens will begin their campaign against Lesotho on July 24 in Gaborone. They will also face competition from rivals South Africa, Uganda, Swaziland, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Namibia and hosts Botswana.
“We are more than ready to begin our campaign against Lesotho because we have so much confidence in the final squad. At present, the morale is high among the players,” said Mlilima, who is an assistant to Mary Waya.
Malawi last took part in the World Youth Netball Championship in 2009 in Cook Island and some of the players were Mwawi Kumwenda, Sindi Simtowe and Lauren Ngwira who are now playing for the senior team.