Minister of Labour, Youth, Sports and Manpower Development Francis Kasaila has accused Netball Association of Malawi (NAM) officials of paying less attention to netball development and focusing more on “foreign trips and pocketing allowances”.
The minister said this when he launched the K35 million Gateway Mall Netball Challenge Cup in Mponela, Dowa on Sunday.
His outburst came after Parliamentary Committee on Gender chairperson Jessie Kabwila, speaking during the launch, complained that netball was getting less funding from government despite it being the “most successful sport in the country”.
She said: “We give netball pitiful resources when they are the best performers in the country. Government must do more to support netball and not football which gets a lot of resources, but doesn’t give us the desirable results.”
Earlier, NAM vice-general secretary Brian Gausi also decried lack of netball infrastructure which he said was affecting the development of the sport.
But taking his turn, Kasaila started firing on all fronts, saying government has been providing more funds towards netball.
“The funds are only spent on foreign trips. That is what NAM officials care about. They do not care about improving the game. We don’t have good umpires and coaches who can help the skilful players we have to improve,” he said.
The minister said to develop netball, NAM was supposed to train the technical personnel, including coaches and umpires.
“The netball standards have gone down as evidenced by the national team performance recently. NAM can’t find ways to improve the situation. They are only available when they want to go abroad with the team. They pressurise you to release the funds. They go as far as acquiring my number to plead with me to approve their funding,” he said.
Kasaila claimed that during the Commonwealth Games held in Australia in April this year, some foreign netball coaching experts helped to polish the Queens after observing that “our technical panel was not doing the right things.”
“I was there in Australia and these experts said Malawi has good players, but they are not coached properly. They helped polish the team that is why our performance improved,” he said.
Kasaila further condemned NAM of failing to ask for resources to hire a well trained permanent coach.
“Instead of asking for funds to employ a coach, what they always ask for is money for trips. This will not help our netball,” he said.
NAM president Khungekile Matiya refused to comment on the issues the minister raised, saying: “There are forums where these issues can be discussed. Therefore, we will not be drawn to comment on these matters through the newspaper.”
On the launch, Mpico Holdings Limited, which sponsors the competition, said it was excited that the tournament is growing every passing year.
“When we were starting three years ago we had 15 teams, last year we had 115 and this year we have over 160 teams. We believe that this competition will continue to unearth talent from the grassroots,” said Mpico Limited marketing manager Ellen Nyasulu.