Malawi’s sole professional netballer Mwawi Kumwenda has said she is ready to risk her international netball career for the sake of fellow national team players’ welfare.
The New Zealand-based lofty shooter laid her frustrations bare on Tuesday, accusing some Netball Association of Malawi (NAM) officials of oppressing Queens players.
She was responding to a question on her future with the Queens.
But Mwawi was elusive on whether she lied about going to South Africa at the time the Queens were heading to New Zealand for the Fast5 Series, insisting that even if it were not for her trip she would not have travelled with the Queens.
“I love my country and it always feels great to serve it through the Queens, but it pains me so much that my colleagues are suffering in silence for fear of being dropped from the squad.
“Maybe you don’t know, there is a lot that is not going on well. There is a certain individual or individuals who are using intimidatory tactics to oppress players on issues to do with their welfare,” said Mwawi.
She cited controversy surrounding their game bonus for last year’s Fast5 Netball Series as well as friendly games in Fiji prior to the competition.
“We won two games at the Fast5 Series and two friendly matches in Fiji. In total, we were supposed to get K80 000 [K20 000 each for a win], but surprisingly, the players were paid only K60 000 each just three days ago,” said Mwawi.
She said she had heard that NAM has told them that a game bonus for a friendly match is K10 000 and not K20 000.
“It is things like these that are frustrating because most of these players have lots of responsibilities. Some of them have dropped out of tertiary education, some are struggling to support their families because the money we get is too little,” she said.
Mwawi also claimed that NAM still owes the Queens about K100 000 each in game bonuses for the Glasgow Commonwealth Games.
“I am fighting a good cause on behalf of my colleagues. If things change, then I will be available for selection, if not, I would rather stay away. They can count me out, but at least they should pay the others because I know the situation in which they are and the effort they give for the sake of their country,” she said.
She expressed doubt about her availability for next month’s three-match test series in England.
Mwawi lamented that while football players are enjoying improvements in their welfare, the story is different with Queens as their entitlements remain the same as was the case before an official sponsor came on board.
However, NAM president Rosy Chinunda said she could not comment on Mwawi’s claims.
“We held a meeting to discuss her issue last Friday, but I would not want to divulge what was resolved.
“I also feel it will not be proper for us to respond to a player’s outbursts in the media. If she has issues, I am sure she knows the right procedure and forum to raise such issues,” said Chinunda, sounding ice-cool.
While confirming Mwawi’s claims that the Queens are still owed bonuses for the Commonwealth Games, Chinunda said the allowances are supposed to be paid by the Malawi Olympic Committee (MOC).
However, MOC president Oscar Kanjala denied responsibility of the Queens bonuses.
“MOC does not pay bonuses. It is not our responsibility. The last time they [Queens] played at the New Delhi Games, the allowances were paid by Sports Council. As for the Glasgow Games, we only pledged to reward disciplines or athletes that would win medals. Since none achieved that feat, we could not pay anything,” said Kanjala.