Malawi Under-21 national netball team is among few sides yet to select players and start preparations for World Netball Youth Cup qualifiers scheduled for Gaborone, Botswana between July 23 to 31.
During the qualifiers, three of the 10 contesting national teams will make it to the World Youth Netball Cup to be hosted by Botswana in July 2017.
Botswana, South Africa, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Namibia and Lesotho started their preparations early this year but, with only a month to go before the tournament, the Junior Queens are yet to identify a coach to select the squad for training.
According to Netball Association of Malawi (NAM) general secretary Carol Bapu, they are in the process of finalising the recruitment of the coach.
“We are finalising the process of recruiting a coach and soon the team will be called for camp training,” said Bapu, who could not disclose the name of the coach and how soon the team will be called into camp.
However, unconfirmed reports indicate that former Queens assistant coach Mary Waya has been earmarked for the task.
Nevertheless, by April this year Botswana, South Africa, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Lesotho and Namibia had already identified their squads that have since intensified preparations for the qualifiers.
South Africa has even taken their preparations to greater heights by roping their Under-21 team into the Spar Netball Challenge Tournament that will also involve their senior and Wales main team in South Africa from June 17.
Blue Eagles Sisters coach Samuel Kanyenda, who once coached the Junior Queens, said yesterday that NAM’s delay to hire a coach will heavily affect the national team’s qualifying chances.
“By now, we were supposed to have a technical panel in place and a squad ready for the international event. The team needs to be together for sometime so as to build confidence and cohesion,” he said.
Malawi Under-21 team last participated in the World Youth Cup in 2009 in Cook’s Island, where the current senior team players such as Mwawi Kumwenda, Sindi Simtowe, Lauren Ngwira and Thandi Galeta were nurtured before their inclusion in the senior squad. n