Concerned by Queens’ struggles, Minister of Youth and Sports Grace Chiumia has stepped in on Mwawi Kumwenda’s stand-off with the Netball Association of Malawi (NAM) by inviting the stay-away shooter to hear her out.
Chiumia confirmed on Tuesday that she invited Mwawi, whose absence at the 2015 World Fast5 Championship in New Zealand last month translated to six straight defeats and a tail-end finish.
Queens’ struggles continued on Wednesday with a 68-36 loss to England in a test match in London.
Contrary to reasons Mwawi gave for not honouring a call up in the build up to the New Zealand trip — claiming the trip coincided with an appointment with a doctor in South Africa- – she opened up to the minister who has promised to call NAM for their side of the story.
“I called Mwawi two weeks ago. She was saying there are issues of allowances and that ‘I am trying to fight for my team-mates who are not working’. I advised her that, if she felt NAM were not being helpful, she should have contacted the ministry. I told her that the impact of her absence was not on herself, but the nation. She promised to avail herself for the team, but I was surprised that she did not make the squad [to London],” Chiumia explained.
A netball coach who refused to be named urged NAM leadership to resolve the issue with Mwawi instead of pretending that she is not important to the team.
Last week, Mwawi’s manager Hlupikire Phiri said she was not comfortable commenting on the stand-off between the player and NAM.
NAM general secretary Carol Bapu was not readily available for comment, but had earlier said that Mwawi would make the England trip.
“Yes, Mwawi’s absence was felt, but we should also appreciate the services of the players we had during the tournament [Fast5]. Yes, we are assured that Mwawi will be part of the team in the coming Queens assignments,” Bapu said in an e-mailed response on November 10 2014.
However, on December 3 2014, NAM president Rosy Chinunda, who too could not be reached on Thursday, toldThe Nation: “Mwawi will not be part of the team as she is not yet ready. But this trip is about exposure and learning.”
Queens players are owed about K100 000 (about $200) each from the 2013 Glasgow Commonwealth Games in London.
The Malawi Olympic Committee and the Sports Council are pushing paying responsibility to each other, a development Chiumia said needed a round table involving all concerned parties.