The impasse between Netball Association of Malawi (NAM) and national team star shooter Mwawi Kumwenda seems to be headed for a listless conclusion. This is because the netball governing body refused to withdraw its warning letter.
On her part, the player has snubbed NAM’s ultimatum to report for camp training by yesterday or risk being excluded from the team’s plans for the Netball World Cup to be staged in Australia next month.
The development comes despite Youth Development and Sports Minister Grace Chiumia’s move to intervene on the fallout.
Mwawi, through her cousin Hlupekire Phiri, who doubles as her manager and legal adviser, demanded the withdrawal of the warning letter by NAM as the condition for the player’s return, but NAM president Rosy Chinunda yesterday described it as a nonstarter.
Mwawi confirmed that she discussed the issue with her manager, whom she said is authorised to speak on her behalf.
But Chinunda was uncompromising yesterday: “Sizingatheke [that cannot happen] and it has never happened elsewhere.
“In fact, that is not an issue, we should be discussing because to us the issue is buried. We cannot go to that extent. If she does not want to join the team then that is it.”
Responding to Chinunda’s tough-talk, Phiri said: “If they are not prepared to withdraw the warning letter then fine and good.
“I had a meeting with Mwawi in Blantyre a few days ago, and her position has not changed. For your information, NAM wrote us an e-mail two days ago, giving Mwawi an ultimatum to report for camp training by Thursday [yesterday] or else they would close the door on her from being part of the squad for the world tournament?”
She also expressed concern that NAM are copying correspondence involving the two parties to her New Zealand club Tactix.
“What has this issue got to do with her club? It is a clear manifestation that they are up to something sinister which is not good,” said Phiri.
Asked what came out of the discussions aimed at sorting out the differences, Mwawi’s manager said: “[NAM general secretary] Carol Bapu phoned me to ask if the player would join camp on Sunday and I told her that she was ready and willing to do that as long as NAM withdrew the letter, but she insisted that to them, the issue was a closed chapter and that is when they wrote the ultimatum letter.”
She also confirmed having been contacted by the minister.
“She made an effort to phone me and I commend her for that. I explained to her Mwawi’s stand. I respect the minister because she was able to understand our position,” said Phiri.
Chiumia yesterday said she would get in touch with both parties to get to the bottom of the issue.
“I spoke to Hlupie as well as NAM and once I return from the North, I will call for a meeting,” she said.
However, coach Peace Chawinga-Kalua has left the door open for stay-away shooter Mwawi who is sorting out her differences with NAM.
After day three of training at Blantyre Youth Centre, Kalua was candid in her assessment of the attacking department which, she noted, need experience going to the World Cup from this August 6 to 17.
“For her to achieve 98 percent shooting accuracy at her club against the same Australia and New Zealand defenders we are likely to meet at the World Cup, proves her excellence. We have experienced players, but most of them are aligned towards defensive positions,” Kalua observed.
Mwawi and Blue Eagles shooter Cecilia Mtukule are the only players missing from what was supposed to be a 20-member squad to be trimmed to 12 when the Queens depart for Sydney this July 29.
Sindi Simtowe is the next best shooter after Mwawi while Joyce Mvula is yet to realise full match-fitness and maturity, whereas Lorraine Ngwira is more of a defensive cover.
“Mtukule has explained to me why she is unable to report for camp. The reasons are personal. However, I am encouraged by response from the rest of the squad to training. There are no guarantees for positions, so there is fierce competition during training,” Kalua said.
Mwawi has not featured for the Queens since last year when she decided to fight for the rights of other ‘abused’ players in the Africa’s number one and world’s fifth ranked team.