Netball Association of Malawi (NAM) plans to buy land for the construction of a secretariat and office blocks for generating income.
This comes after their hopes of owning an indoor netball court went up in smoke following government’s latest announcement that the yet-to-be constructed indoor facility will shared with other disciplines such as basketball and volleyball.
NAM president Khungekile Matiya said they expected that the facility, set for Njamba Freedom Park in Blantyre, could only belong to netball as it is the case with football stadia government is scheduled to construct in Blantyre for the public at Njamba, for Nyasa Big Bullets FC in Zingwangwa Township and for Be Forward Wanderers in Soche Township.
Government, through the late Bingu wa Mutharika, promised to build a state-of-the art indoor netball court in 2009 for the Queens, who are ranked third in Africa and seventh in the world, but the facility is now expected to benefit other sports disciplines once constructed.
“It is our wish to have a place where we can call home and generate income through revenue at netball matches and office blocks,” said Matiya.
“All along, we have been hoping that our dream will finally come true once the government constructs our indoor netball court but we were surprised to hear that the facility will be shared with other sports disciplines. We feel it is better to own and control the facility as is the case with our football counterparts.”
She said NAM intends to arrange some fundraising activities and engage stakeholders to generate funds for the purchase of own land but could not say when that would happen.
On why government decided to include other disciplines, Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture spokesperson Simon Mbvundula said it will be good for sporting codes to share the facility.
“Despite the indoor facility called indoor netball court, it shall also accommodate all the other indoor games such as basketball and volleyball. All along, this was the arrangement as most of the government-owned sports facilities,” he said.
But netball analyst Wesley Namasala, while welcoming NAM’s idea of buying land, said it will be fair for the government to let the netball governing body control the facility, considering that one of the reasons of constructing the indoor netball court is to help generate income.
“What I understand is that government’s intention was to have a netball court before deciding to incorporate the other disciplines and that NAM was hopeful to use the facility for income generation,” he said.
“Now that netball was the primary target, it is better to let NAM have control and get share from all activities that will be happening at the facility. For instance, if basketball is having an activity at the facility, NAM should have a cut from the proceeds since the primary objection is to have a netball court.”
Meanwhile, government is in the final stages of identifying a contractor for the long-awaited indoor netball court.
A total of K200 million was allocated for preliminary works of the project in the 2019/2020 National Budget.
NAM was expected to find solace in the indoor facility after a decade-long wait for government’s promise and after former netball sponsors Rach Family Trust failed to fulfil promise to construct an indoor netball court estimated at K2 billion.
At present, netball relies on outdoor facilities such Blantyre Youth Centre (BYC) and has no reliable income-generating activities.