Netball Association of Malawi (NAM) has accused government of sidelining netball on infrastructure development.
The netball governing body’s president Khungekile Matiya said in an interview that they are not amused that while netball remains the pride of the nation, government has done little or nothing on the sport’s infrastructure and instead, it is investing much in football.
“For over a decade now, we are still waiting for the modern indoor netball court which government promised to build [through former president Bingu wa Mutharika] and yet a state-of-the-art football stadium was built in Lilongwe [Bingu National Stadium] and plans to build another one in Blantyre, are under way.
“As if that is not enough, government has allocated land to football teams and has pledged to construct stadiums for them, yet we pay K75 000 per day to use netball courts at Blantyre Youth Centre and Katoto Secondary School in Mzuzu whenever we have tournaments,” she said.
The NAM president also said in the absence of indoor courts, they cannot invite high-profile teams for friendlies or host international matches.
“We have, on several occasions, taken up the matter with government to no avail.
“We have raised the issue in meetings and followed it up in writing, but there seems to be no headway,” she said.
“The Queens have brought pride to the nation and have put Malawi on the map. So, while government is building football stadia, we are also pleading with them to consider constructing the long-awaited indoor netball court.”
Netball analyst Wesley Namasala has since described the concerns raised by NAM as genuine.
He said: “NAM is justified to make such assertions. Look here, we are ranked sixth in the world, but we are yet to have a modern netball infrastructure consistent with the developing technology.
“Most of the injuries our girls sustain are attributable to the rough and substandard floors of our netball courts.
“It is desirable to have three state-of- art-netball courts, one in each region, which ultimately will raise the international standing of Malawi as we will be able to host international tournaments’’.
When contacted on the matter, Minister of Labour, Youth, Sports and Manpower Development Grace Chiumia said NAM is aware of the route it can take to present such concerns.
“NAM is part of the government and there is no way they should address such a concern in that manner. They are aware of the right office they should deliver such information,” she said.
Recently, President Peter Mutharika committed to construct two football stadiums for Nyasa Big Bullets and Be Forward Wanderers.
In the past five years under Muthalrika’s leadership, government constructed stadiums in some districts apart from the Chinese-funded, Bingu National Stadium. Government also renovated Kamuzu Stadium and it intends to construct a new stadium in Blantyre which is estimated to cost about K73.4 billion.